Euro 2016: England skipper Wayne Rooney hits back at Russian critics

England manager Roy Hodgson (left) and Wayne Rooney during the squad walkaround at the Stade Velodrome, Marseille. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

England manager Roy Hodgson (left) and Wayne Rooney during the squad walkaround at the Stade Velodrome, Marseille. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

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England striker Wayne Rooney has hit back at claims from the Russian media that he is not the player he used to be.

The 30-year-old, who is England’s all-time leading goalscorer, has played more of a midfield role this season for his club Manchester United this season.

It was put to him by a Russian journalist that the opening Euro 2016 opponents no longer fear Rooney.

But Rooney responded by saying: “Everyone who watches football is entitled to opinions.

“I know the qualities I have and I don’t need to sit here and defend myself.

“I’m aware that my game has changed slightly over the years and in my opinion it has changed for the better, but the opinions that matter to me are those of my coaches.”

When asked what qualities he felt England needed for their tricky opener in Marseille, Rooney added in the press conference: “I think resilience.

“We know how important the first game is.

“It cost us two years ago (a 2-1 defeat to Italy in World Cup 2014) and in the first game it’s important to get off to a good start.

“We’ve talked about that as a group of players and we are ready for the game.

“You can feel the buzz around the place, everyone is excited for this game and it’s important we go in and take our performance levels into the game and get off to a good start.

“We have a very talented squad that are capable of big things but tournament football is different so I think it’s a big challenge for us as a squad and we’re hoping and we believe we can do well.”

Manager Roy Hodgson, who has yet to reveal his starting line-up to his players, is hoping England can enjoy a long run in the tournament, but was erring on the side of caution when asked how far he felt they could go this time around.

He said: “We want to go as far as we possibly can and we’ll work very hard to play well enough to get as far as we can.

“But you never know what’s going to happen in a football match.

“Each game has it’s own history, you don’t know which opponents you are going to come up against, you never know what fates will be for you, so we’re trying to be ready for everything and we’re trying to stay in this competition for as long as possible.”

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