Manager Roy Hodgson is hoping for a big performance from Wayne Rooney in England’s crunch match against Uruguay tonight.
Rooney’s place in the England team has come under scrutiny recently after a number of indifferent displays, the latest of which came in the 2-1 defeat to Italy in Manaus.
Hodgson refused to agree with the idea that Rooney is an “exceptional” player during England’s World Cup training camp in Miami.
That was interpreted as a sign that Hodgson’s confidence in Rooney is on the wane, but, on the eve of England’s crucial Group D match in Sao Paulo, the England manager gave his backing to the Manchester United man.
“He came into this tournament wanting to do very well and I think he will do very well in the tournament,” the England boss, managing in his second World Cup, said.
“Wayne has got broad shoulders. He’s getting a lot of support from everyone around him.
“We’ve got a very clear perspective as to what Wayne is and what Wayne can do.
“We’re hoping for big things from him.”
As it stands, victories against Uruguay, who have Luis Suarez available after he recovered from a knee injury, and Costa Rica would definitely send England through.
If England drew on Thursday and won their final group game, they would need Italy to beat Costa Rica and Uruguay to progress.
A loss in Sao Paulo would leave England needing a huge goal difference swing, and other results to go their way, to make it through to the second round.
Hodgson is targeting two wins, but he thinks four points may be enough.
“We realise it’s not as drastic as two must-win games, you can get through with four points, but we are not really counting on that,” the 66-year-old said.
Rooney is expected to keep his place, and could feature centrally behind Daniel Sturridge.
n Today’s fixtures: Columbia v Ivory Coast (5pm), Uruguay v England (8pm), Japan v Greece (11pm).