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Oct 11, 2012

Rooney to captain England at Wembley

Wayne Rooney will captain England when the Three Lions host San Marino at Wembley on Friday.

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Rooney, 26, has never previously skippered his country in a competitive international but will take the armband for the World Cup qualifier against the European minnows.

The Manchester United forward, who is likely to play in midfield because of the absence of Frank Lampard and regular captain Steven Gerrard through injury and suspension respectively, was delighted to be given the responsibility by England boss Roy Hodgson.

"It's a great honour and something I am really proud of," Rooney said. "It's a big challenge for myself, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm excited and I am hoping we can cap the day off with a good victory.

"We have to make sure we play the football we have been trying to do. We have been working hard all week. The manager has told us what he expects of us, and we have to try and do that as best we can.

"It's great that the game is sold out, and I think that the fans, since I have been involved with England, have been fantastic. They travel all around the world for us, and to have 90,000 there for us is fantastic.

"We don't want to let the fans down. We are really looking forward to the game, and we want to put on a show."

Rooney could climb to joint sixth on the list of all-time England goalscorers if he finds the net against San Marino.

More than one goal at Wembley would move him above Alan Shearer, Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney - who are all currently one ahead of the former Everton star on 30.

Hodgson said he was delighted to have Rooney available again after the United player recovered more quickly than expected from a gash to his thigh, suffered against Fulham in the second game of the season.

"I've enjoyed working with Wayne," he said. "It was a big disappointment when he got that terrible gash, which we thought would keep him out of the October games.

"But luckily he made a very quick recovery and he's available to captain the team in this game."

Hodgson also voiced his appreciation of the England fans, saying: "To have that many people who want to come and watch us play, even though on this occasion it's not the opponents who are attracting them but our players, we are very happy with that. We are concerned not to let them down and to do a good job. We have been working towards that."

Apart from Rooney's inclusion as captain, Hodgson offered few clues about his likely line-up for Friday night.

He said: "I haven't told any other players who will be playing and who won't be playing, so I'm afraid that, although I've got a pretty good idea in my own mind what I'm going to do, I can't divulge that until I've spoken to the players.

"It might be a question of utilising the squad in a different way, as we have an important game in Poland on Tuesday.

"How many players I will spare and keep fit and fresh for the game on Tuesday is the decision that has to be made, and one that I've given a lot of thought to."

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