Gerrard lets Rooney off the leash

Gerrard lets Rooney off the leash

Published Jun. 19, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

England skipper Steven Gerrard has no intention of telling Wayne Rooney to calm down ahead of tonight's Euro 2012 clash with Ukraine.

Rooney is available again after serving his two-match ban.

So much focus has been trained on the Manchester United striker, who has already been guaranteed his starting spot against the co-hosts in Donetsk by manager Roy Hodgson, there is an obvious danger that he could end up trying too hard.

Even Hodgson says he might have a word.


Not Gerrard though.

"I'm not going to tell Wayne Rooney not to be fired up for this game," he said.

"That's what he is all about: pressing, being aggressive in the right way.

"We need him on the pitch. He's aware of that. He regrets his reaction when he got the suspension.

"But he's a world-class player and I can see it in his eyes that he's itching to get out there and perform."

The Three Lions need a point to guarantee their place in the last eight, which was felt to be the minimum requirement for new manager Roy Hodgson at the start of the tournament.

To some extent, that target has been taken away.

Even if England were to fail, the impact Hodgson has had in his short time in charge confirms the national side are moving forward and is currently in safe hands.

However, having suffered so much quarter-final heartache in the past, perhaps it is no surprise minds should be drifting slightly.

Gerrard denied it. He is acutely aware of how tricky Ukraine are likely to be.

"I am trying to force myself not even to talk about quarter-finals, or get involved in it," said the midfielder.

"It would be very disrespectful to tomorrow's opposition, who are very dangerous.

"If I started talking about quarter-finals and we slipped up I would never forgive myself.

"Let's deal what we can expect if we get there."

Gerrard also claimed it was a cliche to think England may be intimidated by the intense atmosphere predicted in the Donbass Arena, when the overwhelming majority of a 60,000 crowd will be desperate for a home win that would send Ukraine through.

"The fans don't score goals," said Gerrard. "The noise doesn't score goals.

"We are not worried about how noisy it is or what the atmosphere is like.

"I can't wait. 60,000 fans all cheering. That is what you play football for."