Euro 2012: Wayne Rooney very confident about England chances
Euro 2012: England v Ukraine
- Venue: Donetsk
- Date: Tuesday, 19 June
- Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: BBC Radio 5 live, highlights on BBC One & BBC Sport website
Wayne Rooney believes England have the players to go all the way at Euro 2012.
Rooney, 26, returns from a two-match ban to face co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on Tuesday with England needing a point to reach the last eight.
A confident Rooney said: "If we keep working hard there is no reason why we can't go really far in the tournament.
"I think we're good enough. I know everyone doesn't want us to build expectations up but I firmly believe we have got the players."
"Everybody's been talking about Rooney as our saviour, as our world-class player. There seems to be a lot of reliance on Rooney, and I worry. When was the last time he played 90 minutes? In training he seems OK, but real games are very different."
The Manchester United striker is undaunted by the potential prospect of a quarter-final meeting against World and European champions Spain (should England finish Group D runners up and Spain top Group C).
"Before the tournament started I said a country like ours needs to be in there with a shout of winning major tournaments.
"Obviously you need a bit of luck as well, but we've got a good opportunity. We've got the squad and are more organised than we have been as long as I've been in the squad.
"We are hard to beat now. If we keep doing that and keep working hard then there's no reason we can't go really far and be in with a shout of winning it.
"If you want to win tournaments you have to play the best teams and how much of a boost would it be for us if we were to play Spain and beat them? How much confidence would that give us?" he said.
Rooney also revealed he uses a visualisation technique before games in an attempt to be in the right frame of mind to have an impact for England - and at club level with United.
He said: "I've done it all of my career, since I got in the Everton team. I've always asked the kit men what colour kit we're wearing and what colour the opponents are wearing then visualised scoring goals or good things happening in the game.
"I always do it before every game to get good thoughts and good moments happening in my head to help me. I do it the night before a game when I'm in bed."
Rooney admitted it has been frustrating watching from the sidelines during England's opening two group matches.
"Rooney's return gives England a player who can make the world's best defences take a step back. He will give Hodgson mobility, tactical flexibility, creation and a goalscoring threat that can change the emphasis and momentum of any match."
"What happened was a mistake and I've paid the price. I'm happy and ready to play. I've been looking forward to it and now I'm available to play I'm excited."
The suspension was reduced to two games on appeal, and he admitted that at one stage he feared for his Euro 2012 involvement.
"When it was a three-game ban I thought I probably wouldn't be here. I'm happy that I am here."
Rooney is set to return to the starting line-up and is likely to be made vice-captain by manager Roy Hodgson.
"We haven't designated one yet but he is very much a candidate," said Hodgson. "Quite frankly, with him not being available we haven't really felt the necessity before now to decide on that.
"But we are very much considering him for that position, yes."
England need a point from their final Group D game against Ukraine in Donetsk on Tuesday to reach the knock-out stage. The co-hosts, meanwhile, require a win to reach the quarter-finals.
Rooney for England in numbers
- Senior caps: 74
- Goals: 28
- Games won %: 60.8
- Games drawn %: 21.6
- Games lost %: 17.6
- Cautions: 10
- Dismissals: 2
In a Donbass Arena expected to be dominated by noisy home support, Rooney maintained that England will be able to remain cool and collected.
"We've been to a lot of stadiums around the world and we've had to deal with a big atmosphere on a lot of occasions," he said.
"We're big enough and experienced enough to deal with that."
England have based themselves in Krakow in Poland for the duration of Euro 2012 and Rooney says he is enjoying the inner-city location compared with the remote team hotel at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
When asked if the England squad are enjoying themselves more this time out, he told BBC Radio 5 live: "Without doubt.
"The players have really settled, they're happy. Two years ago we were a little unsettled in certain ways. But the players are all happy playing together, playing for each other, which I'm sure everyone can see on the pitch.
"Everyone gets on with each other and there's a lot of trust between the players and the coaching staff, and everyone's happy.
"You only have to go to the hotel to see the lads. You've got Manchester City players playing snooker with United players, Chelsea players playing Liverpool.
"At the minute, it's certainly the most comfortable I think the team have been off the pitch since I've been in the squad."