Rooney hits back at critics

Rio di Janeiro: England star Wayne Rooney hit back Tuesday at media suggestions that he could be dropped from the World Cup team after he was seen training with the squad`s substitutes.

Rooney`s teammates also leapt to his defence. Frank Lampard expressed dismay at the national "fixation" with Rooney while teenaged star Raheem Sterling called the striker "world class.

Rooney has insisted he asked to do extra training which was why he was with England`s subsitutes on Monday.

"Sometimes (I) wonder what the press are getting at," the Manchester United striker wrote on his Facebook page.

"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."

British media speculated about his team place after Rooney`s subdued display on the left side of England`s attack in their 2-1 opening Group D defeat by Italy on Saturday.

England have a must-win game against Uruguay in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

The Football Association backed Rooney with a statement explaining how the 28-year-old had "requested additional training". The England squad also rallied around Rooney.

Lampard, the England vice captain, said: "Unfortunately we do have a fixation with one player during every World Cup, ones that I`ve been involved in.

"It`s a bit frustrating when you`re in a team group and that happens because we`re there trying to play together -- people are not selfish in this squad -- trying to get results and a fixation with one player can become, rather than a debate, a bit of an agenda.

"So I do think we need to drop the agenda and look at the team, whoever plays, because the manager will pick the best team that he sees fit and whoever plays we want to win the game."

Nineteen-year-old Sterling, who shone in the England attack, paid tribute to Rooney`s influence.

"He is a world-class player, I`ve watched him growing up. He is someone I looked up to so to have trained with him at this camp has been a real honour, really," said the teenager.

"He works really hard and is always improving as well, so for someone like that for me to look up to I am really glad to have him in the team."

"I speak to him a lot," Sterling said. "He just says to relax, express yourself and enjoy the game, really, and not to think too much about what is going on and to just play your normal game and you`ll be fine.

"Some of the stuff he does with the ball, you try to take little clips out of his play and try to really learn from that."

England assistant coach Gary Neville believes that focus on Rooney status merely reflects a national obsession with star players.

"Our country loves it, creating a drama around one player," Neville told the BBC.

"This time it`s Wayne Rooney, but that comes with the territory of being an important player in a big nation. I`ve never known there not be an obsession around one player.

"It was (Paul) Gascoigne from 1996 to 1998, (David) Beckham from 2000 to 2006. From 2006, it was Rooney and Beckham. Now it`s Rooney in 2014.

"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," said Neville.

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