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From debutant to captain, Rooney to face Australia after 13 years

Soccer

Wayne Rooney is set to lead England out against Australia tomorrow, 13 years after a forgettable debut against the Socceroos.

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But England coach Roy Hodgson is planning to try his captain in a different role by starting Rooney on the left of a three-pronged forward line.

Hodgson used a similar formation in the first half against Turkey on Sunday, with Jamie Vardy wide left, Raheem Sterling out to the right and Harry Kane in the middle.

Clearly still in tinkering mode ahead of next month’s European Championships, Hodgson is reportedly set to start Rooney wide left and Adam Lallana wide right with either Daniel Sturridge or Kane at centre forward.

A fresh-faced 17-year-old Rooney was one of six English first starters the last time these two sides met, but was powerless to stop a blistering 3-1 win to Australia.

Rooney’s subsequent career has certainly helped patch up the battle scars from that night, and Friday’s friendly against the Socceroos at Sunderlands Stadium Of Light will be his 110th cap for England.

England's Wayne Rooney during the training session at the Manchester City Football Academy, Manchester.. Picture date: Wednesday May 25, 2016. See PA story SOCCER England. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS. Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 or see www.paphotos.com/info/ for full restrictions and further information.

Rooney and his England teammates during a training session overnight, Australian time, at the Manchester City Football Academy. Photo: Martin Rickett, PA Wire.

It’ll also be the first time the two sides have met since Australia’s famous victory in 2003, and is looming as a crucial warm-up match for England ahead of the Euros.

The Socceroos trained for 90 minutes in rainy, windswept conditions overnight, Australian time, stepping up their preparations after a light run on Tuesday.

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou will also likely be in tinkering mode on Friday, ahead of a two-match series against Greece next month.

It’s the team’s first game since beating Jordan 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier two months ago, a game remembered for a horrific tackle on Bayer Leverkusen attacker Robbie Kruse.

Kruse trained both at centre forward, and out on the left on Wednesday and says he is back to full fitness.

“It was a difficult tackle and a difficult time but it gives me great confidence that my body can handle stuff like that,” Kruse said.

“I feel really really fit, going by my results in my GPS and everything else I was top notch in the last game for Leverkusen. In the last game for the Socceroos I was also really good, that’s the basis for me to know that I’m at a top standard fitness wise.

“My game’s based on working hard, making a lot of deep runs and taking players on. I felt my speed is back to where it was originally before my first injury,” Kruse said.

“Physically I’m feeling really good. Hopefully I can continue what I’ve done the last few games and build that onto a bigger stage on Friday.”

Kruse expects a tough game on Friday against an English team he believes is capable of giving the Euro tournament a huge shake.

“They have a decent chance, they’ll be one of the favourites,” Kruse said.

“It’s good preparation for them as well, everyone’s fighting for a spot or a starting spot in the squad so they’ll have just as much motivation if not more than us.

“They’ve got some great players, the squad’s a lot younger than it used to be in the past.

“They’re all world-class players, you can see that by the performances in the Premier League and around Europe.”

-AAP

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