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By ESPN Staff
Apr 25, 2006

Rooney fearless ahead of World Cup

Wayne Rooney is adamant England have no need to fear anyone at this summer's World Cup.

England have already been installed as second favourites behind holders Brazil for what will be Sven-Goran Eriksson's swansong as national team boss.

Most pundits recognise England stand their best chance of winning the tournament since 1966, particularly if Rooney hits form and strike partner Michael Owen can regain full fitness after a campaign plagued by injury.

After excelling at Euro 2004, Rooney cannot wait to experience World Cup combat for the first time.

And the two-times Professional Footballers' Association Young Player of the Year feels it is right England should be regarded among the top contenders.

'I do not think we need to fear anyone,' he said.

'This is probably the best group of players we have had since 1966.

'There is a mixture of youth and experience in the team. We have a lot of match-winners in there, which can only help, and the spirit is certainly the best it has been since I have been involved in the squad.

'We are going into every game confident we are going to win it and hopefully we will be in the same situation when the World Cup comes round.'

Sir Alex Ferguson is already bristling at the burden being placed on Rooney's shoulders ahead of this summer's extravaganza, believing it is too much for the 20-year-old to cope with.

However, Rooney himself is not too concerned, insisting he is looking forward to the tournament with relish.

'I cannot wait for the World Cup to come around,' he said.

'Hopefully from now until the end of the season I can keep myself fit, free from injury and go to the World Cup fresh.'

Before he can start to concentrate fully on England's World Cup quest, Rooney has Manchester United's final three games to get through, starting with Saturday's trip to Chelsea.

United head to Stamford Bridge knowing they must win if they are not to end up becoming unwitting guests at Chelsea's title celebration party, which is enough incentive for Rooney to hunt victory.

He said: 'We want to go to Chelsea and win on Saturday because it would be devastating if they were to win the league against us.'