Hitzfeld expects Rooney role
Switzerland manager Ottmar Hitzfeld is expecting to face an England side spearheaded by Wayne Rooney.
By James Riach
Last Updated: 07/09/10 12:36pm
Switzerland manager Ottmar Hitzfeld is expecting to face an England side spearheaded by Wayne Rooney on Tuesday.
Rooney has travelled with the Three Lions as they fly out for their Euro 2012 qualifying clash in Basel, despite recent allegations about his private life.
Three Lions boss Fabio Capello is set to decide whether the 24-year-old Manchester United striker is in the right frame of mind to take on the Swiss, after an impressive performance last time out.
England thrashed Bulgaria 4-0 at Wembley on Friday and Rooney pulled the strings, helping to set up all four goals and linking up well with hat-tick hero Jermain Defoe.
Switzerland are expected to be a much sterner test though, as Capello looks to regain some pride and morale in the national camp after this summer's debacle in South Africa.
Rooney was a shadow of his usual self during the World Cup, but Hitzfeld expects him to be picked by Capello on Tuesday night, although admits the recent media attention may play on his mind.
"I expect Rooney to be on the pitch," he said.
"Fabio Capello is not able to leave a player of his class out. I am no psychologist but Wayne Rooney is looking sharp and I am sure he will perform well.
"The only reason he didn't do well in the World Cup was that he was injured beforehand and didn't have time to make his fitness up in time for the tournament."
However, Hitzfeld added that while he is no expert in psychology, "such a thing like that will weigh on a player."
Meanwhile, Switzerland's London-born defender Scott Sutter has questioned whether Rooney is mentally strong enough to put in a performance amid the recent media allegations.
Sutter, 24, who made his international debut against Australia on Friday, concedes that Rooney is a great player, but is unsure how much he will be distracted.
"Wayne Rooney is an amazing player," he remarked. "When he's on his game, it is hard for anyone to stop him.
"But with these things going on in his private life, it depends how mentally strong he is and whether he can put it to the back of his mind and play like the way we know he can.
"I read all the papers online so I have been following what is going on.
"Obviously, it is a distraction and maybe he will not be as totally focused on the game.
"We have to hope Wayne Rooney doesn't play as well as he can.
"But whether something like that will affect him, I don't know, we will see."