Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney
has brushed aside concerns over his temperament by insisting: "I am always in control."
It was a brief response from the 23-year-old just after scoring twice in the 4-0 win over Slovakia, coming a week after he punched a corner flag having been sent off for Manchester United at Fulham. Rooney may never lose the red mist but he showed his maturity at Wembley with a polished performance, on the left or supporting a striker. His two goals took his England tally to 21, with seven coming in the last four games.
"As long as he's not knocking anyone out on the field it doesn't matter," said England team-mate Carlton Cole, who has pulled out of the squad through injury. "Wayne is a top international player and you have to understand that sometimes his temperament lets him down but he is world class. "
Cole, Peter Crouch and Emile Heskey picked up injuries against Slovakia but it did not faze Rooney. "I am a bit more experienced and have played in big games at club level which has really helped me," he said. With Steven Gerrard's form for Liverpool, Rooney sometimes went to the left flank allow his team-mate the free role that he enjoys at Anfield. "It is something we worked on in training," Rooney said.
"Stevie has been playing unbelievably for Liverpool and it is good that we both slotted in and it is nice to do well. "Rooney will reach 50 caps against Ukraine on Wednesday in the World Cup qualifier, although milestones do not bother him. "I am pleased if I can get to the 50 caps but I want to win a trophy. Hopefully in the future we can do that," he said.
Skipper John Terry passed the 50-cap mark against Slovakia and has tipped Rooney to earn up to 150, well past David Beckham's current record of 109 for an outfield player. Terry himself wants to reach triple figures. "That would be nice," he said. "I've been a bit overshadowed but I'll take that, it was a great achievement for Becks. "It was a great achievement for myself and that is the target when you first come into the squad. You set yourself a target and mine was 50, now I'm there I want to reach 100 and if I stay fit I have a chance. "
Meanwhile, Slovakia centre-back Martin Skrtel, who was given a tough afternoon by Rooney, led the praise for the United forward. "It is very difficult to play against him," said the Liverpool defender. "He moves every time and not only played against the defenders but he was going deep on the pitch from midfield and he is a very good player. He is one of the best. "