Wayne Rooney insists he has no problem with his fitness despite a subdued display in England's embarrassing European Championship draw with Montenegro.
Rooney last night looked a shadow of the player who helped put Bulgaria and Switzerland to the sword just a month earlier as England failed to score in a game at the new Wembley for the first time.
The 24-year-old was playing his first match for more than a fortnight after missing Manchester United's Champions League win in Valencia and Barclays Premier League draw at Sunderland. Rooney's form has dipped since unsavoury allegations about his private life emerged in the wake of the Bulgaria win.
But his omission from United's recent games was down to an ankle injury, which manager Sir Alex Ferguson did not want to aggravate, despite the striker continuing to train.
Rooney said: "I've been training for the last two months where I haven't missed a training session, so I have no problems with my fitness."
Rooney, who passed up two good chances to spare England's blushes last night, added: "I felt sharp, had a couple of chances; maybe with the first I could have done better but the keeper made a good save with the second one."
Rooney echoed his team-mates in questioning the performance of German referee Manuel Grafe, accusing the official of giving England's players "no protection whatsoever".
Ashley Young was the victim of several poor tackles while in full flight last night, although he sullied his own reputation when he was booked for diving in the area.
A second penalty incident appeared to go against England, however, when the ball struck Milan Jovanovic's arm.
"From where I was, I thought it was a definite handball," Rooney said.
"I don't think the ref did us any favours. We, as players, felt there was no protection whatsoever.
"But these are things you have to deal with."
Despite the controversy, England really only had themselves to blame for their run of 11 straight Wembley wins coming to an end as Montenegro's game plan paid off.
"They had a lot of men behind the ball and they were well organised," said Rooney, who was twice thwarted by goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic.
"Maybe we should have done better - I thought the keeper played well."
And despite the result, which left England three points behind their opponents and Group G leaders, Rooney was determined to look on the bright side.
He said: "It's a bonus we never got beaten. They had a shot at the end that nearly went in.
"We're still unbeaten in the group, so at least that's a positive.
"It wasn't bad as a draw. We deserved to win.
"I'm sure in the next game against Wales we can put in a good performance and hopefully get the three points."
Team-mate Gareth Barry, who was also guilty of a below-par display, admitted a group England had looked set to run away with was now beginning to look competitive.
"Yeah, it does make it a lot harder," he said.
"If we'd have obviously got the three points, we would have been sitting very nicely in the league.
"But seven points from the first three, it's not the end of the world.
"It's still in our own hands, so we're still confident we can top the group."
England face a wait of more than five months before being able to do that.
"That's the frustrating thing," Barry added.
"It's a long time now before another qualifying game.
"We want to get back to business and try to push ourselves to the top of the league."Reuse content