Rooney returns as England close in on next round
Wayne Rooney will return for England, who need just a draw against co-hosts Ukraine at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk on Tuesday night to book a spot in the quarterfinals of UEFA Euro 2012.
The Manchester United striker is available again after seeing out his two-match suspension and will, according to manager Roy Hodgson, jump straight back into the starting XI despite the Three Lions performing admirably in his absence by drawing 1-1 with France and beating Sweden 3-2.
"Obviously I'm delighted to be back part of the team and the squad and to be involved again," said Rooney at a press conference on Sunday.
"The lads have done great to put us in the position we are in now and hopefully I'll get a chance to play and try and shine and help us get through the group."
Rooney also insists he is fit and ready to go despite not having had much competitive action recently, adding: "Since I've joined up with the squad I've took part in every training session. I'm feeling good, I'm just feeling ready and excited to get out onto the pitch."
The striker’s return to the team is being seen by some quarters of the English media as possibly a step backward for the team, seeing as Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll formed a promising strike partnership against Sweden on Friday night in which both got on the score sheet.
"It's great for the team that we've got forwards scoring goals and the forwards have done well in the games," said Rooney.
"It's great for me as well, it's great competition. You know you need to be at your best to get into the team and stay in the team, so I think it's great for the whole team."
England are sweating over the fitness of Theo Walcott, the game changer against Sweden on Friday night with his goal and a fine assist for Welbeck’s winning strike. The Arsenal attacker has a ‘tight’ hamstring and is a “major concern” according to manager Roy Hodgson.
Ukraine have an even bigger worry, with captain and leading striker Andriy Shevchenko battling against a knee problem.
Shevchenko, who scored both of Ukraine's goals in their 2-1 win over Sweden, was absent from Sunday's open training session in the Metalurg Stadium with a knee problem.
The former Chelsea player is in the twilight of his career, but his absence against England would still be a massive blow to Ukraine, who need to win to reach the quarterfinals.
Ukraine media manager Oleksandr Hlyvynskyy confirmed: "Shevchenko got two kicks on the knee, the first one against Sweden in the second half and the second one was against France.
"There is water (fluid) on the knee. Is he doubtful? He is doubtful, yes, but the doctors are giving him some treatment.
"We hope he will be fit but now he can't train today. I don't know if he will train tomorrow. We will see what happens."
Midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is hoping the team's captain will be fit to lead the side, saying: "Shevchenko is a little bit injured but I don't think it is that bad.
"He is a big player of our team and we hope he can play. He is the goalscorer and it will be very good for us if he could play."