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Mar 24, 2013

Lescott backs 'mature' Rooney

Joleon Lescott has backed Wayne Rooney to overcome his nightmare trip to Montenegro two years ago and help England seize control of their World Cup qualifying group.

Rooney was sent off as England threw away a two-goal lead in Podgorica in a Euro 2012 qualifier and missed the first two games of the tournament as a consequence.

Now Roy Hodgson's side face a similarly daunting task knowing that if they fail to win in Montenegro their chances of qualifying for the World Cup will be taken out of their hands. But Lescott believes Rooney is in the right frame of mind to help England achieve a positive outcome.

"Wayne is older now. He is more experienced and mature," the England defender said. "We all are. I don't think there will be a problem. We want to be disciplined and professional. With the calibre of players in this squad, I don't think it will be a problem."

Lescott has endured a frustrating season at club level with Manchester City where he has fallen out of favour with Roberto Mancini. As a result he wasn't named in Hodgson's original squad but was more than happy to deputise when it was disrupted by injuries and now looks likely to play both games.

"I haven't been in (the City team) as much as I would have liked this season, but I played against Barnsley, so my sharpness wasn't too far away, and San Marino was a massive game for me to be involved in," Lescott added.

"I did my best in training. The manager feels he can trust us all. My experience of dealing with difficult opponents at Euro 2012 can definitely help against Montenegro.

"Montenegro are a very organised team. They are tough to break down, but we are confident. Winning breeds confidence. No disrespect to San Marino but we played well against them and we will hope to do the same on Tuesday.

"When we came away our aim was six points and that is still our main focus. Ukraine beating Poland on Friday night was a good result for us. If we win on Tuesday that would give us a good run into the second half of the qualifying campaign."

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