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I'm ready for Roo-mania! Wayne refuses to feel strain as he gears up for hype

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02 Mar 2010 07:59:48

I'm ready for Roo-mania! Wayne refuses to feel strain as he gears up for hype

People's champion: Wayne Rooney with his second successive England Player of the Year award His knowledge of all 32 qualifiers for the World Cup being what it is, Wayne Rooney was slightly confused by one particular question yesterday. 'Are you ready for Roomania this summer?' he was asked. But then he realised the question did not concern Cristian Chivu and his fellow Romanians, who did in fact fail to secure their passage to South Africa, but the hysteria that will build around him as the tournament approaches. The pressure and expectation. The fact that with him England have a fighting chance; and little or no chance should he suffer any injury setback. Sven Goran Eriksson guessed it would be like this at the end of the last World Cup, which was why he closed his final press conference as England manager with a warning. 'Rooney,' he said. 'Don't kill him.' Nobody, one would hope, has any intention of doing so. But at the same time it is difficult to ignore just how pivotal a figure he has become in Fabio Capello's team. It is 100 days until the World Cup kicks off and you can be sure Capello will be saying a prayer for Rooney's well-being on every single one of them. Fortunately for England, Rooney seems relaxed about the whole thing. Sure, he might be the talk of world football. Sure, he looks unstoppable. Sure, the responsibility to make the crucial difference is likely to fall on him. Bring it on, says Rooney. Not a problem. 'I know that if I have a good World Cup we will have a chance of doing well,' he said. 'So I just hope I can make a difference. Right now, I feel unstoppable. I feel good. I'm in the best form of my life. I feel in every game I play that I'm going to score. 'I don't really feel any pressure. I've had to deal with it since I was 16. If you get injured there is nothing you can do about it, but, hopefully, that won't happen. Hopefully, I can maintain my form, too. Head boy: Rooney is cool despite the pressure of being his country's talisman 'It can't be as bad as it was before the 2006 World Cup. It was a bit weird. The team was preparing for the tournament, yet the focus was on whether I would be fit.' Right now it seems like he is among the few senior England players who are fit - or available for selection anyway. Rooney was reluctant to discuss the more salacious aspects of the Terrygate saga but he did acknowledge what a loss Wayne Bridge represents after his withdrawal from the England squad. 'We are weakened by not having Wayne,' he said. 'He is a fantastic player and especially important with Ashley (Cole) being injured. He would have been the one who would have replaced Ashley. It is unfortunate but it is his decision and we have to respect it. Big loss: Rooney regrets Wayne Bridge's absence 'Recently there have been a few injuries to our big players. Hopefully Ashley comes back from his ankle injury in time and we can get Rio (Ferdinand) fit, too. He has had a stop-start season and if he gets back it will be important for us. Aaron Lennon is a massive player for us and we need him back, too. He can carry the ball and put opponents under pressure.' Yesterday Rooney was voted the England fans' player of the year, for the second successive year, and it is a measure of how far he has come that he no longer concerns himself with specific roles. Time was when he would complain about leading the attack on his own, preferring instead to play off a more traditional centre forward. But not any more. As he has demonstrated with England and Manchester United this season, he can do either and he now realises as much. That is why, when invited to do so yesterday, he did not express a preference. 'When it comes to where I play it's the manager's decision,' he said. 'If he wants to play the formation he has been playing, then fine. 'Of late for England I have played just behind Emile Heskey and I have scored a few goals. I have played a lot further up for United and saved my energy for when the ball comes near the box and that is working as well. I am happy whatever.' He has made significant progress, with his more economical, intelligent approach delivering some stunning results. His winning goal against Aston Villa in Sunday's Carling Cup final was his 27th of the season - or 28th if, as he does, we include the Community Shield. Held him back? Rooney has flourished in the absence of former United team-mate Ronaldo Eight of the last nine have been headers and Rooney says that is down to a number of factors. 'Good wing play' (could he possibly mean now the selfish so-and-so Cristiano Ronaldo has gone?), good coaching from Ferguson and Capello and a realisation that more time spent in the penalty area normally leads to more goals. 'Over the last few months, Antonio Valencia has been a brilliant player for us,' he said. 'When the delivery is good into the box you can then work on your movement and timing, and I am benefiting from it. The manager said to me in pre-season that I needed to score more headers and since then I have worked even harder and that hard work is now paying off. 'In the past I was dropping deep and trying to play players in more rather than getting in the box myself. Since we lost Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, it is something I've had to do more.' And something he clearly enjoys.  EXCLUSIVE: Fabio Capello courts Spurs defender Ledley King to shore up England backlineRoo: Don't boo - John Terry taunts will hurt us all says Wayne Rooney as Chelsea bad boy prepares to face Wembley fansEngland face fight to hold on to Fabio as Juventus line up summer move for bossShamed Terry no longer commands team-mates' respect, claims Desailly  Explore more:People:Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Emile Heskey, Sven Goran Eriksson, Wayne Rooney, Fabio Capello, Wayne Bridge, Aaron Lennon, Antonio ValenciaPlaces:South Africa, United Kingdom


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