England v Montenegro: Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge can be the perfect partnership says captain Steven Gerrard
Captain believes the strikers can fire England into the World Cup
Wednesday 09 October 2013
Steven Gerrard is convinced Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney can be the perfect strike partnership and fire England into the World Cup.
Neither frontman was available for last month's crucial trip to Ukraine, and in their absence England were unable to find a way through the home side's solid defences.
The point did maintain England's unbeaten qualification record.
However, at least one victory at some point over the next week is imperative if Roy Hodgson's men are to advance to the finals in Brazil without the need for a hazardous play-off. The worst-case scenario is that they find themselves eliminated altogether.
Hodgson is therefore delighted to have Rooney and Sturridge available this time around, even if the pair have only amassed 30 minutes on the pitch together for England, during last May's friendly with Republic of Ireland at Wembley.
And, knowing Rooney has found the net five times this season, and Sturridge has scored on eight occasions for Liverpool, it is no surprise to learn captain Gerrard feels exactly the same.
Speaking on behalf of official England partners William Hill, Gerrard said: "The potential in that partnership is frightening.
"They are both very skilful, they can both create and they can both score. All the boxes are ticked.
"They just have to prove they can make it happen.
"That is the most difficult thing but I have belief in both of them."
Gerrard has been impressed at how well Sturridge has flourished under the guidance of Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who has given the 24-year-old the confidence he needed to progress.
"You wonder why (Manchester) City have moved Daniel on and why Chelsea have let him come to us," said Gerrard.
"I had seen signs and huge potential. But I hadn't seen it on a consistent basis.
"But working with him daily and seeing the form he has been in of late, it is scary to think what he might become.
"I have no hesitation in saying he has the potential to be world class. He is that good.
"The key for Daniel was to have a manager who believed in him, play him every game and build a team around him that gave him a platform to prove he is a top player.
"So far, so good. But what he has produced at Liverpool everyone is waiting (for) with England.
"Hopefully that is what we see over the next seven or eight days."
It might need something special to open the door too.
For, having already claimed three successive draws with England, and knowing their own qualification hopes hinge on not getting beaten at Wembley, Gerrard is not expecting to meet an adventurous Montenegro outfit.
"I think they will come here to try and spoil," said Gerrard. "They will come for a point because that keeps them in the race.
"They will try and slow the game down and break it up. We want the opposite. We want it to flow and score early. We want a high tempo.
"That is why it is such a very intriguing game."
And the interest is only heightened by the prize that awaits at the end.
"It doesn't come any bigger," said Gerrard. "We are all going to be judged over the next week on whether we get to the World Cup or not.
"We all realise the pressure is huge. And in that pressure cooker, we need to produce, perform and deliver."
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