Gerrard backs Rooney to perform

England skipper Steven Gerrard believes Wayne Rooney will be in the right frame of mind to shine in tomorrow's Euro 2012 qualifier against Switzerland.

Rooney will be back in action in Basle for the first time since allegations concerning his private life appeared in a Sunday newspaper.

The Manchester United star has been in the spotlight for the past 48 hours and the behaviour expected of top players has been a constant source of debate.

But Fabio Capello confirmed Rooney will start against the Swiss and Gerrard believes returning to play football can be a "release" for a player if he is encountering off-the-pitch problems.

Rooney looked back to his best before attracting the front-page headlines in setting up all four goals during Friday's 4-0 success over Bulgaria at Wembley.

Gerrard said: "I haven't spoken to Wayne about his issues off the field because, to be blunt, they are nothing to do with me.

"Wayne knows I'm here for him as a friend and also as a team-mate but he seems fine to me.

"He trained well yesterday and wants to play. I just hope he performs to the level as on Friday when he was superb.

"The team certainly need him to play at that sort of level if we are to get the three points we are after. When he is on top form, he can score and create goals and win matches on his own."

Gerrard admitted: "If you have got issues off the pitch, football can be a release and when the game kicks off you are totally focused on it.

"You have to push off-the-park matters to one side and only come back to them when a game is over but that's the same for most footballers."

Rooney looked at ease when operating in a deeper role against Bulgaria who found it hard to contain the former Everton player.

Gerrard said: "Wayne showed why is one of the best players in the world because he can drop deep, link the midfield to the attack, set goals up and get into dangerous positions himself.

"Certainly, I wouldn't want to be facing him in the kind of form he was in the other evening. But it is important we are not distracted by anything, not just the issue with Wayne Rooney.

"I am expecting another big performance from him."

Two years ago England set the benchmark for their World Cup qualification campaign with a 4-1 victory over Croatia in Zagreb.

In the same way, Switzerland represent England's biggest threat to qualifying automatically for the 2012 finals and they showed their pedigree with victory over eventual World Cup winners Spain in South Africa.

Gerrard said: "I think it will be difficult to get a 4-1 scoreline this time. Switzerland are a very good team, very organised defensively and difficult to score against.

"But we want to build on Friday's performance and we will go into the game full of confidence. Our target when we came together last week was six points. A draw against the Swiss would be a decent result but we want the three points."

The only selection issue for Capello appears to be whether to persevere with Gary Cahill in place of the injured Michael Dawson in defence or recall Matthew Upson.

But Gerrard has faith in whoever Capello decides to put into place alongside Phil Jagielka.

He said: "You don't have to change much after winning 4-0 but I am sure whoever plays at centre-half will do a good job.

"Gary Cahill did well when he came on the other night and Matthew Upson did a superb job in the qualifiers for us and also played in the World Cup.

"We are aware it is our first away game since the World Cup and will be a big test but we are up for the challenge and confident."

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