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Rooney giving less than 100 per cent ahead of World Cup

ESPN staff
March 12, 2010 « Soccernet Podcast: Can Barcelona get past Mourinho's bus? | ESPN FA Cup Promo »
Wayne Rooney gets within touching distance of the World Cup trophy © Getty Images
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Wayne Rooney has made the surprising revelation that he is holding back during Manchester United training sessions in order to keep himself fresh for England's summer assault on the World Cup.

Rooney has been on fire over the past three months, smashing 14 goals in his last 10 outings for United. Four of those strikes have come against AC Milan, while winners in the Carling Cup semi-final and final prove the former Everton man is in the mood to hit the most vital of goals ahead of the World Cup.

However, in stark contrast to his on-pitch form, Rooney confesses he is giving less than 100 per cent during training. Sitting within inches of the World Cup trophy on Thursday, a trophy he was prohibited from touching, Rooney insisted he would do anything to avoid missing England's trip to South Africa.

"I am proud to play for my country and I want to play for them unless I really can't," said the 24-year-old.

"I am enjoying my football and playing well and managing myself better and that's paying off. I am not doing every training session whereas normally I would train as hard as I can every session.

"It's not due to my knee but I have played a lot of games this year and it is about reining myself in during training. I am getting a bit older and wiser now."

Rooney's contribution over both legs against Milan ensured United are through to the Champions League quarter-finals, meaning Rooney has at least another 11 club games to play this season. Far from fearing burnout though, Rooney can sense momentum gathering behind a potentially memorable climax to the campaign.

"It's all set up for me. We're in a great position with United, and with England we are going well, too. Hopefully, we will have a great tournament and you never know, this trophy may be back here at the end of July.

"You try not to think about the World Cup because you need to do your job with your club first. But it's a dream to play for your country at any tournament, let alone the World Cup."

Rooney has already gone on record with his thoughts about John Terry's axing as England captain, insisting the Chelsea man remains a leader with, or without, the armband. United colleague Rio Ferdinand will now lead England into the World Cup, but Rooney is confident in his own abilities to one day wear the Three Lions armband.

"I've had pressure since I started playing for Everton at 16 and for England at 17. It doesn't really affect my game. I think I've got qualities to be England captain so I hope one day to be able to do that."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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