• England 1-0 Norway

Rooney excited by Sterling combination

ESPN staff
September 4, 2014
Roy Hodgson: England captaincy weighing on Wayne Rooney's shoulders

Wayne Rooney believes he can form a lethal partnership with Raheem Sterling after the pair combined to earn and score the winning penalty that saw off Norway at Wembley on Wednesday.

Rooney took his international goal tally to 41 with his winning spot kick, which was won by Sterling when the Liverpool forward was upended by Omar Elabdellaoui in the 67th minute.

And the new England captain revealed he is enjoying playing with the Liverpool starlet.

"He is a threat," added Rooney. "He takes the ball, he runs at people. It doesn't always come off, but he is an exciting player and makes things happen. He is great to play with."

Manager Roy Hodgson was also full of praise for Sterling and said he will consider deploying the Liverpool winger in a central attacking role in Switzerland.

Sterling was moved to a role behind lead strikers Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge for the final 20 minutes against Norway following Rooney's substitution and Hodgson liked what he saw.

Wayne Rooney led England out for the first time as captain © Getty Images

When asked whether Sterling could be used as a central attacker against the Swiss next week, Hodgson offer this response: "Yes, we could certainly consider that.

"The good thing with the players we have at the moment, many young ones out there and three making debuts [against Norway], is that we have these options.

"We changed the way we were playing in terms of the system quite radically with about 20 minutes to go when Welbeck came on alongside Sturridge and Sterling playing behind. I thought we got that going as well.

"I also learned from these players that we are not restricted to playing one particular way and with a little bit of luck we could have aggravated the score, but the important thing was the victory."

Like Rooney, Hodgson admitted he was frustrated by his side's slow start to the second half, but he took encouraging aspects from the display.

"We enjoyed some positive moments, some good movement and good play," he added. "Our passing was good, although I was not very happy with how we started the second half.

"Without letting Norway into the game totally, we gave them hope. For the last 30 minutes we were pretty good value for our victory. We wanted a clean sheet and got that. We wanted high-tempo passing play. All the things I wanted I thought I saw for large periods of the game."

Rooney, who moves just eight shy of Bobby Charlton's record of 49 England goals, admitted he had already decided which way to place a spot kick long before man of the match Sterling gave him the chance to execute his plan.

"I'm always nervous taking a penalty, but I was confident I would score," he said. "I knew which corner I was going to before the game if we got a penalty and I put my boot through it. Thankfully it went in."

Rooney did, however, admit his team's muted display was less than convincing.

"I thought I could have done better. I think we all could have done better," Rooney added. "But this was the first game after the World Cup and it was important that we got the victory going into the game on Monday.

"I think in the first half we moved the ball quite well. They made it difficult for us, sat back, but we created a few opportunities. Second half we started fairly sloppy and that was disappointing because we wanted to go out and take the game to them, but we got the win in the end.

"There were a lot of young players in that team. The important thing was to get the victory."

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