Early England goal against San Marino 'the key' says Wayne Rooney


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The Independent Football

Stand-in skipper Wayne Rooney wants England to strike early to help ensure there are no shocks in store when they take on lowly ranked San Marino in tonight's World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

It is almost inconceivable to think that England will not triumph against a San Marino side ranked joint worst at 207th of all FIFA registered sides.

England will also have the backing of a full house of 90,000.

But Rooney knows as well as anyone what is possible in football after he was part of a Manchester United side which were held to a goalless draw by the then non-league side Burton in an FA Cup tie six years ago.

He said: "I've played at club level against lower league teams in cup competitions, and they do make it difficult for you.

"They get players behind the ball, so you have to break them down. The key is to get an early goal. Then we can kick on from there."

However Hodgson has to balance up entertaining a crowd expecting a goal feast with keeping players fresh for Tuesday's clash in Poland.

In addition, defender Joleon Lescott, midfielder James Milner and striker Jermain Defoe will be ruled out of the game in Warsaw if booked against San Marino.

Hodgson said: "There are 90,000 coming to watch so we want to win the game and we'd like to do that by scoring a few goals.

"A good result is a win and a good performance. Beyond that I'm not prepared to quantify it.

"I want to see evidence the players are doing what I want them to do, whether that's 1-0 or 10-0.

"How many teams are going to score five in Moldova? They're not that bad. So we have a head start in that way."

Hodgson added: "My team is something I've got to give a bit of thought to.

"I also want to keep players fresh and after the Ukraine game, when yellow cards were thrown around like confetti, I would be disappointed if a minor incident cost me a player against Poland."

Liverpool duo Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson are ruled out against San Marino through suspension.

In addition, the Chelsea pair of Frank Lampard (calf) and Ryan Bertrand (viral infection) will rejoin the squad on Sunday after being ruled out tonight.

They have returned to their club and will be reassessed on their return to the England fold.