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Returning Rooney ready to roll

Wayne Rooney told UEFA.com that missing the first two games could "help me later in the tournament" as he prepares to enter the fray in England's match against Ukraine.

Returning Rooney ready to roll
Returning Rooney ready to roll ©uefa.com 1998-2012. All rights reserved.

Wayne Rooney says he is "fresh and ready to go" ahead of England's decisive final Group D fixture against Ukraine.

The Manchester United FC forward was forced to watch the Three Lions' first two games of UEFA EURO 2012 from the stands after a red card in England's closing qualifier against Montenegro earned him a two-match ban. However, Rooney remains philosophical about the situation and even thinks the added rest could prove to his and the team's advantage.

"You want to be out there playing of course, but I've had quite a while to get used to the fact I'd be missing the first two games," the 26-year-old told UEFA.com. "I've done all the training with the team and prepared as if I were playing, so I feel fresh. Hopefully, in some ways, missing the first two games will help me in the later games in the tournament."

Despite goalscoring performances from Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck in Friday's 3-2 success over Sweden, there was never any doubt in Roy Hodgson's mind that Rooney would resume duty as soon as he became available. A "world-class player" in the eyes of his manager, the top English goalscorer in this season's Premier League lauded the displays of his fellow frontmen and is now looking forward to linking up with at least one of them against Ukraine in Donetsk on Tuesday.

"It's great for the team that the two lads scored the goals," he explained. "There's competition for places now, which is great because I know if I do get in the team, I'll need to play well to stay in it. I think it'll only be good for the team."

Rooney said the appointment of Hodgson to the England helm had made it easier for the squad to gel under the new boss. With no words "lost in translation", the players have swiftly absorbed Hodgson's ideas, something Rooney believes has already begun to be reflected in the side's performances.

"Obviously, we're not going to pick everything up in such a short space of time. We'll need time to work on it, but in the time we have had to try and take his tactics and way of playing into games, I think we've done pretty well."

Nonetheless, from his vantage point in the stands during the win against Sweden, Rooney was able to identify the areas in England's display which needed improving. "The way in which we conceded the two goals was disappointing because we normally defend better than that on set pieces."

Still, aside from the three goals scored, the Liverpool-born attacker felt there were plenty of positives, not least the character shown to come from behind and turn the contest. "Going 2-1 down, the team spirit we showed, the desire to get back in the game and win, was great for the whole team. It was a gritty performance at times, but I think a well-deserved win."

Rooney is now anticipating his first appearance at a UEFA European Championship since the 2004 edition in Portugal, where he struck four times en route to the quarter-finals, only for the then Everton FC prodigy's tournament to be cut short by a broken metatarsal in the first half of England's eventual exit against the hosts.

The powerful marksman, who has been capped 74 times, is determined to reaffirm his credentials on the biggest stage by helping England into the latter phase of the competition. The Three Lions require only a point against Ukraine to secure their place in the last eight, yet the returning No10 insists Hodgson's side will not risk playing for a draw.

"We're capable of winning the game. It will be tough because obviously they've got a lot of fans there and we're playing in Ukraine, so it will be a difficult game. A point will get us through and if we have to take that we will, but we'll be going for the three points."