BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa (AP) — England coach Fabio Capello and captain Steven Gerrard expect to see Wayne Rooney to come through against Germany when the two teams renew their World Cup rivalry Sunday in the second round.
The striker failed to score in the three group games and has not hit the target for Manchester United or his country since April, despite having a great season before that.
"Rooney has trained very well, shot very well at goal and scored a lot of goals" in practice, the Capello told reporters on Saturday. "We hope tomorrow he will be the same.
"But always Rooney is a really good player. He's important. He didn't score goals in the last games but he's always important for us, with the movement, the assists, with everything he does in the game."
England captain Steven Gerrard said Rooney, who had a shot pushed onto the post against Slovenia, is likely to silence his critics against Germany.
"I think the pressure's not just on Wayne, I think it's on the whole team," the Liverpool midfielder said. "Top players put pressure on themselves, as I'm sure Wayne's doing that in his own spare time.
"It's only a matter of time before Wayne scores in this tournament. Hopefully that's tomorrow. I have every confidence in him that he's going to play well tomorrow because he played well in the last game, and as it's been said earlier, he's looking really sharp in training."
Rooney scored 34 league and cup goals this past season but that form disappeared after he was injured in a Champions League game against Bayern Munich in April. He has since picked up more injury problems and appeared frustrated when his scoring touch failed to return in the World Cup games against the United States and Algeria.
Capello rarely reveals his lineups until just before kickoff, but said he would probably field the same starting 11 that beat Slovenia.
Germany-England games have a long history of dramatic moments.
England won the 1996 final despite a goal the Germans to this day claim never crossed the line. Four years later in Mexico the Germans hit back from two goals down to beat England 3-2 in the quarterfinals. Germany also won a penalty shootout in the 1990 semifinals in Italy after a 1-1 draw.