Under pressure: Wayne Rooney has hit out at media reports. *AFP photo
Under pressure: Wayne Rooney has hit out at media reports. *AFP photo

No sooner had Daniel Sturridge exuded confidence that England would still qualify for the knockout stages than Wayne Rooney was sniping back at the English media.

The general consensus after the 2-1 defeat to Italy was that, while there remains major concerns, the England performance was enouraging.

‘At least they gave it a go,’ was  a common reaction among fans, who remembered vividly the insipid England display when the teams played each other two years ago in the European Championships (Italy won on penalties after a 0-0 draw).

Sturridge is one of the vibrant youngsters giving fans cause for tentative optimism ahead of tomorrow’s crucial Group D game against Uruguay.

On the flipside, Rooney’s largely stuttering display — although his assist for Sturridge’s goal was exceptional — has drawn criticism.

Should he have played upfront? Should he be dropped? Is he past his best? 

It all probably explains why he reacted to press reports that he was training with England’s second string.

“Sometimes wonder what the press are getting at,” Rooney said on Facebook. 

“I said from the start I want to do everything I can to make sure I’m ready for these World Cup games and as part of that I was doing extra training a week before the squad joined up. 

“That’s exactly what I did yesterday, my own extra training because that’s what I wanted to do.”

England coach Gary Neville also leapt to his defence.

“Unfortunately — or fortunately, because he is a big player — this time it’s Wayne Rooney. You can’t get him to do a light day’s training. That’s his character. He just wants to play every second of every day. He has an enthusiasm for football that is incredible and he’s been like that since the moment I played against him when he was a young Everton kid.”

For Sturridge, he remains confident England can see off a Uruguay side likely to contain a fit-again Luis Suarez.

Sturridge said at a press conference: “I don’t think there are fears or anxieties. 

“We’re all excited. We understand if we continue playing like we did, we will get results. It’s not if we will win, it’s when.”