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Rooney turns attention to England after Stadium of Light win
WHEN Wayne Rooney left the Stadium of Light on Saturday evening, his thoughts weren't centred around Manchester, they had turned to the Maracana.
Rooney will link up with the rest of Roy Hodgson's England squad this morning ahead of two pivotal home games that will determine their World Cup fate.
With Montenegro and Poland visiting Wembley on Friday and Tuesday respectively, England could yet find themselves qualifying automatically, dropping into the play-offs or missing out on World Cup qualification entirely depending on what happens in the final two matches of a campaign that has contained more than its fair share of false dawns.
The stakes could hardly be higher, but with their fate in their own hands as they sit at the top of Group H, Rooney insists England's players are more than capable of getting the job done.
“We're going to do it, we're going to get to the World Cup,” said the Manchester United striker. “I'm confident, we're confident, but you always have to be sure you're not over-confident. These are two tough games for us, but we're good enough to do it.
“I can't wait to be honest. This is crunch time, and as soon as the game (at Sunderland) had finished, I started to think about England.
“It's something to be excited about. They are two massive games for the country, we know how much it means and hopefully we can come through them.”
Victories against Montenegro and Poland will guarantee England's passage to Brazil, but given that Hodgson's men have only beaten the minnows of Moldova and San Marino in the current round of qualifiers, it would be wrong to take anything for granted against sides that are capable of causing problems on their day.
In Juventus' Mirko Vucinic and Manchester City's Stevan Jovetic, Monetenegro boast strikers of pedigree, but with a full complement of forwards available to him for the first time in a while, Rooney believes Hodgson also boasts a wealth of attacking capability.
“We've got some great young players emerging this season, as we've seen with Daniel Sturridge, who scored again (against Crystal Palace), and Danny Welbeck,” he said. “We've got the players who can score goals and win these two games.”
In the future, England may also be able to call upon the services of Rooney's Manchester United team-mate, Adnan Januzaj.
Born in Brussels to Kosovan-Albanian parents, the 18-year-old currently qualifies to represent ten different countries including Belgium, Albania, Turkey and all the states of the former Yugoslavia.
Given that he moved to England to join Manchester United's academy two years ago at the age of 16, the FA have investigated the possibility of him becoming a naturalised British citizen, a scenario that could potentially pave the way for him to play for England.
However, FIFA statues appear to suggest that Januzaj would have to live in England for five years after reaching the age of 18 before he would become eligible, meaning that February 2018 could be the earliest he could be considered.
“I'm sure the FA will be doing everything they need to do to get him to play for England,” said Rooney. “It's not down to me, but hopefully...I don't know.
“He's a great prospect. He takes the ball, runs at players, and he's got great ability. I think it's great the manager has thrown him into the side.”
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