Lescott: No Rooney problem

Joleon Lescott is sure that Wayne Rooney will keep his cool in Montenegro as England look to claim top spot in Group H.

Last Updated: 24/03/13 at 14:07 Post Comment   

Joleon Lescott has backed Wayne Rooney to keep his cool.

Joleon Lescott has backed Wayne Rooney to keep his cool.

Joleon Lescott is sure that Wayne Rooney will keep his cool in Montenegro as England look to claim top spot in Group H at the scene of perhaps the maddest moment of the striker's international career.

Rooney was banned for the first two matches of Euro 2012 after kicking out at Montenegro midfielder Miodrag Dzudovic in their qualifier 17 months ago.

The petulant kick was the latest in a line of controversial issues that have dogged the 27-year-old throughout his career.

That famous stamp on Ricardo Carvalho in the 2006 World Cup and a series of off-the-field problems have meant there have always been concerns over Rooney's temperament, but, in fairness to the striker, he has kept out of trouble ever since his indiscretion in Montenegro capital in October 2011.

England manager Roy Hodgson is wary Montenegro will try to wind Rooney up in Tuesday night's crunch qualifier, but Lescott is convinced the former Everton man will not lose his temper if they tease England's star man about the kick.

"Wayne is older now. He is more experienced and mature," the England defender said.

"We all are. I don't think there will be a problem.

"We want to be disciplined and professional. With the calibre of players in this squad, I don't think it will be a problem."

Lescott has undergone something of a roller-coaster week.

The Manchester City man has been kept out of Roberto Mancini's starting XI for the majority of the season, giving Hodgson no option other than to initially leave the 30-year-old out of his squad, despite his impressive performances at Euro 2012.

But injuries to Michael Dawson, Phil Jagielka, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Cahill mean he will now be one of the first names on Hodgson's team sheet come Tuesday night.

Lescott, who will be partnered by 22-year-old Chris Smalling, has only completed 10 Barclays Premier League games for Manchester City this term, with his most recent start at club level coming against npower Championship strugglers Barnsley in the FA Cup.

Lescott barely had a tackle to make on Friday night as England strolled to an 8-0 win in San Marino, but he insists he is prepared to do combat with feared Serie A strikeforce Stevan Jovetic and Mirko Vucinic, who have scored 23 goals between them this season.

"I haven't been in (the City team) as much as I would have liked this season, but I played against Barnsley, so my sharpness wasn't too far away, and San Marino was a massive game for me to be involved in," the former Everton defender said.

"I did my best in training. The manager feels he can trust us all. My experience of dealing with difficult opponents at Euro 2012 can definitely help against Montenegro."

The 8-0 hammering of a team who have not won a competitive fixture in their history may, on the face of it, look like a pointless exercise, but Lescott thinks the comprehensive win has boosted confidence ahead of Tuesday's game, which England must win to leapfrog Montenegro in to top spot.

"Montenegro are a very organised team. They are tough to break down, but we are confident," Lescott said.

"Winning breeds confidence. No disrespect to San Marino but we played well against them and we will hope to do the same on Tuesday.

"When we came away our aim was six points and that is still our main focus. Ukraine beating Poland on Friday night was a good result for us.

"If we win on Tuesday that would give us a good run into the second half of the qualifying campaign."

The San Marino game will also live long in the memory for Lescott on a personal level as he ended the match with the captain's armband following Frank Lampard's second-half withdrawal.

"I was disappointed last week when I didn't get in the squad, but I was delighted to be involved and I ended up as captain," Lescott added.

"It was definitely my proudest moment in international football.

"I did it for the first time against Norway but to do it in a competitive game was even more special."


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