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Aug 12, 2010

Capello claims England supporters still back Rooney

Fabio Capello is adamant that England supporters are still in "love" with Wayne Rooney despite boos being directed at the Manchester United striker during Wednesday's friendly win over Hungary.

Gerrard saves England

• Gerrard lashes out at critics
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On a night in which a portion of the 72,024 supporters inside Wembley expressed their discontent at England's poor performances at the World Cup, it was Rooney, who looked so under par in South Africa, who attracted the most audible protests.

Rooney was substituted in between Hungary's opening goal and Steven Gerrard's equaliser and with the Wembley crowd frustrated with a 1-0 scoreline in favour of the visitors, the striker was withdrawn to a mixture of boos and applause. He appeared to clap sarcastically to the crowd and then went straight down the tunnel.

Though England players being booed at Wembley is hardly a new phenomenon - Frank Lampard, John Terry, Ashley Cole and David Bentley have all been targeted in recent seasons - the abuse directed at Rooney comes only weeks after he was forced to apologise for criticising England fans following the country's 0-0 draw with Algeria at the World Cup.

As England departed to jeers in Cape Town, Rooney said to a TV camera: "Nice to see your home fans boo you. That's what loyal support is."

However, Capello believes that England supporters have not lost patience with a player who scored nine goals in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, even if he admits that the striker is far from his peak condition.

"I am sure the supporters love Rooney because he is a really important English player," Capello said. "He can make the difference always in every game but he is not at a good moment. He has to play more.

"Probably he will not be good for the next game he plays in the Premier League."

England handed debuts to four players against Hungary - Michael Dawson, Bobby Zamora, Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere - and Capello was impressed with the performances of the new elements of his squad as he looks forward to the start of the country's Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

"It was one game and we had to play with pressure because a lot of people speak about this game, the boos of the crowd, big pressure," Capello said. "But the new players played with big confidence. Kieran Gibbs did very well, Adam Johnson, Bobby Zamora, did very good, and I'm happy for Ashley Young.

"This time he played with confidence, the confidence he didn't play with before in the two games at Wembley.

"Wilshere didn't play much because on Tuesday night he was at the hospital. He had some problems, some big pain. He returned from the hospital about 5am. For this reason he only played ten minutes because the doctors said he cannot play a lot."

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