by Jeremy Armstrong
SkiPPER Steven Gerrard said last night he can see in Wayne Rooney’s eyes that the striker is ready to take England to Euro 2012 glory.
Rooney will line up for the first time at this tournament with England needing just a draw against Ukraine to secure a place in the quarter-finals.
Gerrard welcomed pal Rooney’s return from suspension saying: “Everyone here knows what Wayne Rooney is all about.
“He makes us a lot more threatening going forward, he is a world class player.
“I know him very well, I am close to him and I can see in his eyes that he is itching to perform.
“I hope that he can go out and make a difference. I believe he will.”
Manager Roy Hodgson has no fears about the 26-year-old Man Utd superstar’s temperament after the two-match ban for his sending off against Montenegro in the qualifiers.
He said: “He has impressed me in the way he has gone about his work. He has also been talking to some of the younger players giving advice.”
Gerrard, 32, added: “We are not going to tell Wayne Rooney not to be fired up, that is what he is all about… being aggressive, in the right way.
“That is what makes him world class.”
Even Andy Carroll, the man likely to make way for the return of Rooney in tonight’s game, was backing him.
After giving him a quick neck massage in training Carroll said: “Obviously, Wayne is a fantastic player with great qualities and we need him in the team.
“I would love to play alongside him – any player would – and I’ve never had that chance before.”
The team had their final training session in Krakow, Poland, yesterday morning before flying to Donetsk, where they had a walk around the Donbass Arena last night.
England fans will be outnumbered 10 to one in the intimidating atmosphere of the 50,000-capacity stadium in what is being billed as the biggest match in this country’s history.
Around 4,000 of our supporters will run a gauntlet of hate from the 45,000 Ukrainians in the stadium.
They spoke yesterday of their fear of a hooligan backlash if we win or draw and qualify for the quarter-finals, knocking Ukraine out in the process.
Some said they won’t wear their England shirts before the game for fear of violence. Shakhtar Donetsk’s notorious Nazi “Za Boys” have warned: “Ukraine will become a graveyard to English fans.”
The hardcore thugs posted stickers two days ago saying their “Ultras” would seek revenge on our fans if we beat Ukraine.
Estate agent Michael van de Vyver, 37, of Wimbledon, said: “I think we will all be keeping a low profile.”
His pal Duncan Reid, 38, an events organiser of Clapham, South West London, said: “It reminds me of the game in Moscow against Russia in 2007.
“There were about 3,000 of us there, and again we were completely outnumbered.
“There were soldiers with machine guns in the ground instead of stewards and you have got to keep your heads down and get out very quickly. It will be exactly the same here.”
Tony Hixon, 48, from Southampton, is not wearing his England shirt.
He said: “There’s an unusual feeling about this game. We don’t know too much about the Ukrainians so we are all just wondering what is going to happen.”
Crusader-costumed Dex Marshall, a financial adviser from Uckfield, East Sussex, has attended both group games so far dressed as an English knight.
He said: “I will be wearing my England gear before, after and during the game.
“I am not letting anyone scare me into taking off my colours.”
ACC Andy Holt, in charge of the UK police operation here, said he wasn’t advising fans not to wear shirts but said: “The issue for fans is to be mindful of their own safety, not just in the shirts they wear but how much they drink.”