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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep, 8, 2008

No frustration for Rooney, Capello insists

Fabio Capello insisted Wayne Rooney is not becoming frustrated at his failure to hit peak form for England ahead of Wednesday's vital World Cup qualifier with Croatia in Zagreb.

Rooney has hit the target only five times for his country since the start of the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign and his last international goal was 11 months ago.

Against Andorra on Saturday he again failed to stand out against the part-timers although it was his reverse pass which laid on the second of Joe Cole's two second-half goals which spared England's blushes.

He found little room in the massed defensive ranks of the Andorrans and snatched at the only decent opportunity which came his way in the first half, sending his shot high over the crossbar.

But Capello believes the top players need time at the beginning of a campaign to hit form and that Rooney will relish having more room to manoeuvre against the skilful and technically gifted Croatians.

He said: 'The game against Andorra was not the perfect game for Rooney. He tried to touch a lot of balls. He did one fantastic pass for the second goal and also one other in the first half for Theo Walcott.

'He needs space. Rooney needs space to work. I hope in the next game, he will find the space against a team who will not have nine players behind the ball for most of the game.

'Is Rooney getting frustrated? No. I believe that when you start the season, the biggest players need more time to find their form. He has to find the form.

'He plays well, but he is not fantastic, but, for me, it is important for the team, the movement he is trying.'

Emile Heskey could come into the frame to start alongside Rooney against Croatia and he linked up well with Michael Owen on his return to the England side 12 months ago.

The Wigan striker was brought on as a half-time substitute against Andorra along with Joe Cole and the pair of them made strong cases to be in the first XI against Slaven Bilic's side.

Capello said: 'When you play against this team (Andorra), you need one big player. The big man is dangerous for defenders and Heskey did some good movement when he came on.

'This is dangerous for defenders and, for this reason, we find the space. Jermain Defoe also showed some good movement but he is small. He had one chance to score. It was not easy with no space.'

Theo Walcott must wait and see if his promising start to his first full international will be sufficient or whether Capello will recall and rely on the experience of David Beckham in what will be a hostile atmosphere.

Capello said: 'Walcott is very fast and dangerous. He is young, sometimes he played well, sometimes he will not play well but he is very interesting for the England team.

'Has Walcott done enough to stay in team? Walcott, like Joe Cole, is very important to me. He is a very interesting player.'

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