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Rooney boost for England

BLOEMFONTEIN, June 26- Fabio Capello got the news he wanted to hear on Saturday when Wayne Rooney reported fit for duty in England's World Cup showdown with Germany.The Manchester United striker has completed his recovery from an ankle injury and with Ledley King also back in training, Capello had a full 23-man squad from which to pick the XI that will start Sunday’s last 16 match.

King’s recovery from a groin strain he suffered in England’s opening match against the United States gives the Italian several options in central defence with Jamie Carragher also available again after serving a one-match suspension.

Capello acknowledged that picking a partner for John Terry was "more or less" his only selection dilemma although the Italian must be tempted to stick with a back four that performed well under late pressure in the 1-0 win over Slovenia that secured his side’s place in the second round of the tournament.

That would mean West Ham’s Matthew Upson partnering Terry with Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole in the fullback slots.

Rooney was substituted 20 minutes from the end of the Slovenia match with what Capello described as a minor problem with an ankle.

The striker’s subdued performances in England’s matches so far have led some to suspect the injury is more serious than is being admitted but he appeared to be moving freely at the start of a training session in Rustenburg before the squad set off for Bloemfontein.

Capello insisted he was happy with Rooney’s contribution so far.

"He is one of the most important players in the world," he said.

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"He played a good game against Slovenia. There was a fantastic assist for Steven Gerrard. He should do really well and I’m happy about his performance."

Rooney is expected to be partnered in attack by Jermain Defoe, who displaced Emile Heskey from the starting line-up for the Slovenia match and scored England’s goal.

Capello said he was delighted to see King defy predictions that his World Cup was over.

"He was training normally with the other players. I will have to decide the player who plays with John Terry. Upson, Carragher and King have played well but I have to choose."

Capello believes the knockout stage of the competition will bring out the best in his squad following their failure to top Group C.

"All the teams want to finish first but sometimes you can’t," he told BBC Radio. "I’m happy now because we have found the spirit and physically the situation is really, really good."

Capello added: "When you play the first two games it’s really, really difficult because you are looking at the table and points, thinking ‘what will happen if we win or lose?’

"To play off is better. There is normal pressure now."

Capello is acutely aware of the intensity of the rivalry between England and Germany, and he believes his squad will be ready if the encounter ends in another penalty shoot-out.

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"It’s a really big game – one of the best you can see before the semi-finals," he said. "We have practised penalties every day, although I hope it won’t be necessary to take them."



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