Silva: Rooney can inspire England

BY foxsports • March 1, 2010

Brazil midfielder Gilberto Silva insists Wayne Rooney's recent form means England will still be among the contenders for this summer's World Cup despite their recent problems.

England boss Fabio Capello has stripped John Terry of the captaincy following allegations involving the ex-girlfriend of Wayne Bridge, who has made himself unavailable for international football.

With Ashley Cole also out with a serious ankle injury, Capello's problems have been mounting - but Rooney's form has caught the eye in the Brazil camp as they prepared for their friendly against Republic of Ireland at the Emirates Stadium.

"Of course, we look at Rooney very closely, especially if we have to face England," said Gilberto, who could face England in the semi-finals in South Africa.

Comparing Rooney to the likes of Kaka, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the former Arsenal midfielder added: "You can say he is at the same level as them. He is doing very well. Year by year, he becomes better and better by the experience that he is getting over the years and I am sure he can do a lot for England this summer."

Gilberto does not feel England will be weakened by the recent problems off the field.

"I think that is a concern but we cannot, as a possible opponent of England, focus on that and think that this kind of thing can disturb them," he said.

"England is a very strong squad, a very strong team. We know that. Some of the England players are in very good form. They can do a lot in South Africa. It will be a tough tournament for everyone who wants to win. We will fight for it."

Brazil coach Dunga is putting the final touches to his preparations before the tournament in June when his country look for their sixth World Cup, with the friendly against Ireland seen as an important test.

"Preparations have been very good until now," Gilberto said. "We just have to try and keep going and doing a good job, doing the right things.

"Ireland will be a good test for the team. For sure, we want to finish this preparation before the last weeks to keep our confidence very high.

"Every day, we feel very anxious because we come closer and closer but it's important for every one to keep doing the job in the right way, prepare in our clubs and then we will not lose time when we get there."

For Ireland, they will be reminded of what could have been as it is their first game since Thierry Henry's handball helped knock them out of qualification at the play-off stage.

Gilberto added: "I feel sorry for the way they didn't qualify and the way they were knocked out. But sometimes these things happen and even though they aren't there, it will be a tough game and a tough opponent for us."

Brazil coach Dunga insists the fitness of his players is his greatest concern against Ireland - and he will make a host of changes during the match to try to ensure his squad do not pick up injuries.

He said: "The thing that is the most important for us is bringing the players back to the clubs without injury. Some played on Sunday, some 10 hours ago.

"The players might be tired and we need to ensure we don't get injured. For the rest, it's normal - we'll make some substitutions so that as many as possible can play. We don't want players injured for the World Cup."

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