Rooney puts body on the line
Wayne Rooney (AP)
London - Wayne Rooney insists he is happy to put his body on the line in England's World Cup warm-up matches even though he has added a sore neck to his growing list of injuries.
Rooney injured his neck in the closing stages of Monday's 3-1 friendly win over Mexico at Wembley, but was unable to come off as England had already used all their allocated substitutes.
The Manchester United forward believes his latest injury scare is no cause for alarm, but it would hardly be surprising if England coach Fabio Capello was considering wrapping his most important player in cotton wool until the team's first match against the United States on June 12.
Rooney has been hobbled by ankle and groin injuries in recent months and his form seems to have suffered slightly after a run of just one goal in seven games.
Yet the 24-year-old wants to play in every game and, whatever his ailments, he promised to give his usual whole-hearted effort if selected for this weekend's final World Cup warm-up against Japan in Austria.
"You have to go into each game and play like you normally do," Rooney said.
"If things happen then hard luck. We'll just have to get on with it.
"It's not pressure. I just try to give my all every time I play.
"I actually feel quite good. I have a bit of a stiff neck but that will be gone in a couple of days."
Capello has plenty to think about this week after giving his players a stern talk at half-time on Monday for allowing Mexico too much time on the ball.
Despite taking a 2-1 lead at the break, England looked shaky at the back and sluggish in midfield, but Capello is rightly wary of criticising his players too heavily in public just weeks before the start of the World Cup.
Instead he opted for a veiled warning that there had better not be a repeat of the lacklustre performance against Mexico.
"I am not worried about that performance. It is important to make the mistakes now," he said.
"We have time to work on these mistakes and other things that we have to do to be better, to ensure we play like I know this team can play because we have really good players.
"We need to recover the spirit of what we did in qualification."
For the moment, England playing in the World Cup final in Soccer City on July 11 seems an unlikely prospect, but Capello is already dreaming of a showdown with his home country.
The Italian said: "I hope to play against Italy in the final or the semi-final but at that moment my shirt would be an England shirt.
"I would not swap my position with (Italy boss) Marcello Lippi. I prefer to be England manager."