England’s James Milner voiced his support for Wayne Rooney on Sunday after lurid reports about the striker’s private life cast a shadow over preparations for the team’s Euro 2012 clash with Switzerland.
After being showered with praise for his starring role in Friday’s 4-0 Group G rout of Bulgaria, Manchester United icon Rooney awoke on Sunday to find himself plastered over the tabloid press for all the wrong reasons.
The News of the World and Sunday Mirror both carried reports that Rooney had repeatedly frequented a prostitute while wife Coleen was pregnant with their son, prompting speculation about his participation in Tuesday’s key game.
FA sources have indicated no decision has been taken concerning Rooney’s place in the squad but was expected to travel to Basel as planned on Monday.
Rooney is an integral part of England coach Fabio Capello’s team, even though it is now 11 matches since he last scored for his country.
And Manchester City midfielder Milner indicated the England squad was firmly behind Rooney and wanted him to line-up for the encounter, regarded as being the trickiest of England’s Euro qualifying campaign.
Milner revealed Rooney had trained normally on Sunday despite the revelations. “He did the full session,” Milner said. “We had our full training session and back to football is what we’re here to do.
“I think you want the best players out on the field and he’s obviously one of them. He showed that the other night.
“He’s a top, top player and you want to put out the strongest team possible.”
Asked to comment on how Rooney was coping with the allegations — the Sunday Mirror reported the star feared the reports could end in divorce — Milner commented: “You’re going to have to ask him.”
However Milner said he was determined to ensure the claims didn’t wreck England’s otherwise perfect start to qualifying.
“We’ve got to make sure they don’t,” he said. “Things are always said in the paper, good things, bad things, about the England team when results are going well and when they’re not going well.
“You have highs, you have lows, and it’s down to us to make sure only thing that matters is on the field, come together and make sure we get the result. Winning football matches is the only thing that matters.”
Milner meanwhile said the manner of Friday’s one-sided defeat of Bulgaria — where England produced their best performance since last year’s World Cup qualifiers — had helped close the door on the dismal campaign in South Africa.
“I think it was a good performance. It was all about the result, but to get a performance like that was nice,” he said.
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