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Sep 6, 2010

Rooney to remain with England squad

Wayne Rooney will remain with the England squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier in Switzerland on Tuesday despite allegations over his private life appearing in two Sunday newspapers.

• Soccernet preview: Switzerland v England

There has been speculation over whether Rooney would drop out of the squad as a result of the reports in the News of the World and Sunday Mirror, but he was still with the squad on Sunday morning as England trained behind closed doors and boarded the plane for Switzerland on Monday.

FA sources have told the Press Association that, although no decision has yet been taken, at present he is due to travel with the squad, and ESPNsoccernet understands discussions took place on Saturday night in anticipation of the news story breaking.

Talks continued on Sunday morning, but the FA has no intention of taking action against Rooney and will instead look to protect him.

Should Rooney drop to the bench, the absence of Peter Crouch through injury means Fabio Capello would be left with only Darren Bent, Carlton Cole and Jermain Defoe as traditional strikers.

It will be of extra relief to Capello that Defoe, who scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Bulgaria, was willing to postpone groin surgery to play his part in England's first two Euro 2012 qualifiers.

A close aide of the England manager told ESPNsoccernet on Saturday: "We were aware that Defoe was not available, that he was due to have surgery and that his club, Tottenham, had announced that he wouldn't be available for England.

"But when Franco Baldini called Defoe, he discovered a player who, when told that he was wanted, really wanted to play for England, and that he said he would have the surgery another time.

"For that reason, he deserved what he got against Bulgaria - a hat-trick and a match-winning performance. This player wanted to be with us, and that is the kind of attitude that has made Fabio very happy indeed."

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, though, expects his team to be facing an England side containing Rooney. And the wily German doubts whether off-field worries were a reason for striker's poor World Cup performances.

''I expect Rooney to be on the pitch,'' he said. ''Fabio Capello is not able to leave a player of his class out. I am no psychologist but Wayne Rooney is looking sharp and I am sure he will perform well.

''The only reason he didn't do well in the World Cup was that he was injured beforehand and didn't have time to make his fitness up in time for the tournament.''

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