Wayne Rooney has welcomed the potential inclusion of Jack Wilshere in the England team as the captain prepares to try and avoid reliving the disappointment of a fateful evening spent at his grandmother’s house 18 years ago.
Roy Hodgson’s team are preparing to face Slovakia in their final match of Group B at Euro 2016, having drawn 1-1 with Russia and come from behind to beat Wales 2-1.
There have been suggestions Hodgson may make changes to his line-up, with Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, picked in the squad despite featuring in the Premier League just three times last season due to injury, tipped to start.
“Everyone knows Jack’s qualities, he’s fantastic player,” Rooney said of the 24-year-old.
“He can take the ball, run at players, create chances. Jack doesn’t have to prove himself. He’s an unbelievable player with a lot of ability.”
The match against Slovakia will take place at Saint-Etienne’s Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, where a 10-man England infamously lost to Argentina on penalties in the round of 16 at the 1998 World Cup.
“I remember the game, I watched it in my nan’s house,” said Rooney.
“[Of course], it ended in disappointment, with David Beckham getting sent off.”
England were forced to tackle the might of Argentina early in that competition after failing to win their group and Rooney is determined to ensure a similar fate does not befall his side on Monday.
“We’re not even thinking of that,” he said.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where it’s in our hands to win the group. I think it’s important we try to do that as we’ve put ourselves in this position.”
Much of the build-up to the game has been dominated by suggestions Hodgson could start with Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy, scorers against Wales, ahead of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, who underperformed in Lens.
“They’re great to have in the squad,” Rooney said of Hodgson’s other attacking options, which include his Manchester United team-mate Marcus Rashford.
“Everyone has seen the quality of the players. Whoever the manager decides to play – it’s his choice but we’ve got players who can change games.”
While Rooney claimed a relatively young England team is not under the usual pressure to challenge for the European Championship, the 30-year-old also insisted they are obliged to try and build on an encouraging start in France.
“We’ve got a good, exciting squad,” he said.
“Time will tell. We’re not going to get judged on what happens in this tournament.
“[But] we’re [also] not here for the experience. We’re here to do well and go far. This squad can grow into a better team, a more mature team.
“We feel we’ve had a good start. We hope we can continue that and go into the latter stages of the tournament.”
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