Rooney hopes for ‘special’ Wembley moment
LONDON: Having matched Bobby Charlton’s England goal-scoring record against San Marino, Wayne Rooney plans to set a new mark in front of a home crowd against Switzerland at Wembley on Tuesday.
Rooney’s penalty opener in Saturday’s 6-0 win in San Marino, which secured a place at Euro 2016, was his 49th international goal and left him needing one more to become the first England player to reach a half-century.
Substituted mid-way through the second half in Serravalle, Rooney believes it will be more fitting if he breaks the record at Wembley, but admits that it is trophies, rather than personal milestones, that fire him.
“It would have been nice tonight (Saturday) as well, but to do it at Wembley would be a lot more special and hopefully on Tuesday I can do that,” the Manchester United striker said.
“It was my 106th game and as much as I love playing for England and scoring goals, there would be nothing better than being successful with England and that’s all any player wants to do.
“I’m sure the other lads are no different. It’s the ultimate goal and if I don’t, I’ll be disappointed.
“Hopefully the young players in the future can, but it’s the ultimate goal for me and that’s what I want to do — be successful with England.”
Euro 2016 will be Rooney’s sixth major championship with England and he knows that time is running out for him to atone for a litany of tournament disappointments by getting his hands on an international trophy.
The England captain will be 30 by the time England travel to France, but he fully intends to play on until the 2018 World Cup in Russia and potentially beyond.
“I still feel fine,” he said. “I think I can go to Russia and then see how I feel, but that’s not something I’m thinking about.”
HODGSON WANTS ‘HEADACHES’
Manager Roy Hodgson wants his team to make sure of top spot in Group E — a draw on Tuesday will suffice — so that he can use England’s remaining qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania in October to experiment.
“Hopefully, one point on Tuesday night and we will have won the group as well,” said Hodgson, whose side have won all six group games since beating Switzerland 2-0 in Basel in their first match.
“That would be nice to do that because, quite frankly, I don’t think we would lose to Estonia and Lithuania with players like (Ross) Barkley, (Jonjo) Shelvey, (Nathaniel) Clyne, (Jamie) Vardy etc.
“It would be nice for me to say: ‘Look, get out there, I’m trusting you, give me a few headaches because I’m resting these ones who have been playing all the time.’ It would be a nice headache.”
Hodgson praised Swansea City midfielder Shelvey for his display against San Marino, but said that Rooney’s United team-mate Michael Carrick would take over in the midfield holding role against Switzerland.
In a previous job, Hodgson led Switzerland to the World Cup finals in 1994 — the first time they had reached the tournament since 1966 — and the country he once called home is hoping he might do them another favour.
Switzerland’s qualification hopes looked in serious jeopardy after they fell 2-0 down at home to Slovenia on Saturday, but a stirring late fightback yielded a remarkable 3-2 victory that means they can secure at least a play-off place by winning at Wembley.
Tuesday (kick-offs 11:45pm PST)
At Barysaw, Belarus: Belarus v Luxembourg
At Skopje: Macedonia v Spain
At Zilina: Slovakia v Ukraine
At London: England v Switzerland
At Vilnius: Lithuania v San Marino
At Maribor, Slovenia: Slovenia v Estonia
At Vaduz: Liechtenstein v Russia
At Chisinau: Moldova v Montenegro
At Solna, Sweden: Sweden v Austria.