Rooney aiming for England perfect ten
Wayne Rooney is desperate to secure a perfect ten out of ten victories from England's triumphant World Cup qualifying campaign.
Fabio Capello's men travel to the Ukraine on Saturday with a place in South Africa already assured thanks to a record eight successive wins.
That is not enough for the Italian perfectionist though. With two matches left to play in Group Six, he is demanding another six points. And Rooney is determined to fulfil the request.
"The manager has stated he wants to win all 10 games and that is what we are aiming for,'' Rooney said. "He has made it clear to us these two matches are as important as all the other games we have played.
"They are the last competitive games we will play before the World Cup. After that there will be a friendly against Brazil and then another in March. So when you look at it, while it is a long time until the World Cup, there are not too many matches. It is important we take them seriously.''
And for Rooney, every international match carries the same weight whether friendly, qualifier or major tournament. In the wake of the spate of pull-outs in the Scotland squad, the England striker is certain he would never be absent on purpose.
"No. I don't think players do want to withdraw,'' he said. "We are enjoying our football and playing well. Everyone wants to be a part of it, so there is no reason to pull out.''
Rooney is proud of England's record under Capello and believes the attitude of the squad has changed since the Italian became manager.
"There is something different about this England,'' claimed Rooney. "We have played some really good football, especially in the qualifying games. The friendlies have not been as good but when we have needed to we have played quite well.''
The United striker has netted nine goals so far this qualifying campaign, topping the scoring charts and proving just how crucial it will be for him to stay fit, should England have any chance of achieving their World Cup ambition. And the 23-year-old insists he is ready for a return to the world stage after doing a lot of growing up since his red card for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho in the 2006 quarter final.
"It is a great honour to score for your country,'' he said. "To be the leading goalscorer across the whole of Europe is something I would be very proud of. I am a more mature player now, which is natural. I broke into the England team at 17. Anyone doing that at such an age is going to be passionate.
"Your emotions are going to be really high. It does change as you get older. I am still young now - and I am still learning. But those disappointments don't play on my mind at all. I have more or less forgotten about those tournaments now. I can't change them, so I don't look back. I am just trying to focus on the next tournament and to do well there.''