Gerrard - Wayne is fine
Captain confident Rooney can ignore controversies to play well
By Mike Barton. Last Updated: 06/09/10 9:50pm
Gerrard: Confident Rooney will perform
England captain Steven Gerrard is confident that Wayne Rooney will play to his best against Switzerland despite off-the-field allegations.
Rooney's name appeared in the Sunday newspapers regarding issues in his personal life and his frame of mind was questioned in light of the stories.
Despite a much-improved performance from the Manchester United star against Bulgaria in England's 4-0 win on Friday, the allegations could not have come at a worse time for a player so unusually out-of-sorts during this summer's World Cup.
However, Gerrard has backed Rooney to come out fighting for the Three Lions, insisting that off-the-field issues could inspire him on the pitch, and that footballers were not perfect human beings.
"I've spoken to him today at lunchtime and trained with him yesterday and Wayne's been fine," Gerrard told a press conference.
"He's looking forward to the game and looking forward to playing well.
"Sometimes if you've got an issue off the field football can be a release, and once the game starts I'm sure Wayne will be focused on playing well himself and doing well for the team so we get three points.
"You expect big performances from Wayne Rooney every time he goes out, he's a world class player.
"Yesterday he trained normal so I expect another big performance from Wayne like every time I play with him.
"Every player understands the responsibility of being a footballer at the top level. But on the other hand we're human as well and along the way we're going to make mistakes.
"I've made some through my career, its just how you react to them mistakes."
The Liverpool midfielder also confessed that the Euro 2012 qualifier in Basel on Tuesday would be their toughest test since the World Cup disappointment.
The Swiss shocked Spain to win their opening game of that tournament, but Gerrard is confident his team has enough ability to beat Ottmar Hitzfeld's organised outfit, although a draw would be an acceptable result.
"A win here would do wonders for our confidence. The lads are feeling good and really happy with the performance on Friday, but we understand not to get carried away and we know what's needed here," he added.
"A draw here would be a decent result, but a win would be fantastic and we're after three points.
"We're away from home against a good side so it is a big test for us. We've won the two games at Wembley but this is the first away game since the poor showing against Germany in the World Cup.
"So it will be a big test but as captain of the team I'm really confident the lads can rise to the challenge and take three points.
"All the players understand what we're here for, we're here to try and get three points against a very good team. We're confident after the result the other night and it's important we're not distracted by anything, not just the issue with Wayne."