Rooney the rouser

England 6 Iceland 1: Two goals from the prodigy, plenty from the rest and a comfortable formation - final warm-up is the perfect pick-me-up
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The Independent Online

The diamond was not forever after all. Hard as that particular formation is to break down, the slightest flaw becomes obvious. England made it abundantly clear in Manchester that they function better with a flat four across midfield by demolishing a moderate Iceland side in something akin to a perfect send-off to Euro 2004. All it needs now is for Sven Goran Eriksson to make the right choice against France.

The diamond was not forever after all. Hard as that particular formation is to break down, the slightest flaw becomes obvious. England made it abundantly clear in Manchester that they function better with a flat four across midfield by demolishing a moderate Iceland side in something akin to a perfect send-off to Euro 2004. All it needs now is for Sven Goran Eriksson to make the right choice against France.

Whatever the shape of midfield, the solidly built form of Wayne Rooney must surely be part of the front line. He demanded a starting role against the French with a bustling first-half performance capped by two goals. After calmly knocking in his first from a pull-back by Gary Neville, he fired in a rasping shot that set the seal on the argument over who should line up alongside Michael Owen in attack.

Eriksson has a slight worry about Rooney's fitness but the Swede was happy with the teenager's contribution. "He didn't disappoint me at all and his two goals were very good to see," he said. Almost as good as it was for him to see England enjoying the new, or alternative, midfield set-up. Eriksson said: "So many times we've played 4-4-2 and we've also played the diamond so I don't see any problems - this squad can do both. I think we might play one way in this game and another way in the other."

Frank Lampard should have secured his place by thriving in his more favoured, attacking role that the flat midfield alignment allowed him to adopt. The danger posed by a player who can surge from midfield was underlined when he lit up his display with the first England goal. He played a one-two with Paul Scholes and hammered the ball in via a deflection.

It was a perfect set-up by Scholes, and the Manchester United player also laid on Rooney's second. Eriksson said: "Paul Scholes is an extremely intelligent football player and he did well but I am not surprised because he does it all the time with Manchester United."

So the only problem in midfield - and there must be one - is David Beckham. On top of his inability to engage with team-mates he no longer sees regularly at close quarters and his need to switch back to the right from the central role he plays for Real Madrid, the captain has a back problem, which required a visit to hospital after he retreated from yesterday's match along with most of the other starters at half-time.

Eriksson explained: "I can guarantee you that it is no problem and they decided two days ago he should have the injection because of a small inflammation in his back. It was better to do the injection after today's game because he has to rest for two days and he will be ready to practise when we return." So no reason to panic then - unless it is about John Terry being unfit.

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