Montenegro manager Zlatko Kranjcar believes Wayne Rooney’s lack of form is a direct result of his own off-field antics, but he still views the England striker as the man to fear at Wembley on Tuesday night.
Rooney has ensured a torrid start to this season following allegations of infidelity while wife Coleen was pregnant with their son.
He has just two goals to his name for club and country. But Kranjcar is wary that the crucial Euro 2012 qualifier could be the Manchester United striker’s time to turn things around.
“I believe the chance to play will help his self-confidence and restore his game”, Kranjcar said. “One thing is for sure, England are definitely a better side with Wayne Rooney than without him.
“I am sure it is very difficult for him at the moment, but he got himself into this situation. He has big difficulties handling it psychologically.
“There is a lot of pressure on the player, so he is in a very difficult situation right now.”
Kranjcar, father of Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Niko, has guided Montenegro - with a population of just 670,000 - to the top of Group G with three wins from three.
But England, who have played a game less, can draw level with victory at Wembley. And captain Rio Ferdinand echoed the view that Rooney could be vital to the team’s success.
“Wayne has been under immense pressure because of the reasons we know," he said.
“He has been fantastic in training, the same old Wazza, which we all love. If we are going to win anything, we need him playing to his tip-top form.”
By Luke Nichollscomments