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Rooney raring to go for England

RUSTENBURG, June 8 – Wayne Rooney played down concerns over England's lacklustre World Cup build-up and insisted he was raring to go ahead of the opening group C clash with the United States here on Saturday.Fabio Capello’s side have looked unconvincing in their warm-up internationals against Mexico and Japan and that impression was confirmed by another disjointed display in the 3-0 win over South African Premier League side Platinum Stars on Monday.

England did however look much sharper once Rooney came on as a second half substitute and the Manchester United striker created his side’s second goal before claiming the third for himself.

"It was a good run-out, we needed to get the game in and to play 45 minutes felt good so I was happy," Rooney said.

"I think we got out of it what we needed. I would have liked to have got a bit more of a game but I was happy with the 45 minutes.

"We are ready – these are preparation games for us for the big one now coming up on Saturday. I just can’t wait now. The sooner it comes, the better."

Rooney’s input into Monday’s match came at a price with the striker picking up a booking for dissent and generally charging around in a manner which would have reminded many England fans of his conduct in the 2006 quarter-final against Portugal, in which he was sent off before England lost out in a penalty shoot-out.

Team-mate Jermain Defoe however believes that Rooney cannot completely shed his aggressive, competitive edge.

"When you’ve got that fire in your belly as a player can be good," Defoe said. "If you take that away from Wayne, then he won’t be the same player."

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Defoe backed Rooney’s view that England are ready to challenge at this World Cup, although he acknowledged they were still adjusting to the 1500m-plus altitude of South Africa’s high veldt.

"It was a really good work out. With the conditions, the altitude and the heat, it made it difficult, but it helped with the fitness for what is ahead.

"You do notice the altitude here when you’re running around. It’s different, and we’re a lot higher here than we were in Austria but I’m sure we’ll get used to it in training.

"I don’t think we could be better prepared for a World Cup. I think everything we’ve done – the training, the fitness work – has been spot on.

"The hotel is brilliant. We’ve got everything we need, so the preparation has been good and, if you prepare right, you get results."

Defoe added: "Everyone’s hungry. We want to win it. We’ll take each game as it comes, but I think we’ve got that winning mentality.

"We’re winning games and we want to take that into a tournament now."

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