Football

Rooney wants England to be ruthless

England captain urges team to be ruthless ahead of Iceland clash

While news of striker Jamie Vardy's rejection of a move to Arsenal made waves at home yesterday, Wayne Rooney and Roy Hodgson took time off to face reporters as England prepared for their Euro 2016 clash with Iceland in Nice on Monday.

Both the England skipper and manager called on the team to be ruthless in their attacking play during their knockout clash.

England were the second highest scoring side during qualification, but have struggled to sparkle at the tournament so far, finding the net just three times in their Group B fixtures.

Of the teams left standing, only four scored fewer than England in the group stage and Rooney has demanded an improvement.

"We need to play at a high tempo," Rooney told journalists.

"It's a great story for them, but we have to be ruthless and try to punish them."

JAMIE VARDY taking part in a training session. PHOTO: AFP

England enjoyed the lion's share of possession in their three group games, but were frustrated by opponents who defended deep and with discipline, and are expecting a similar scenario against an organised Iceland side.

"I've seen them a while ago when they played Holland and they were organised and difficult to break down," Rooney added. "Whether they sit back or have a go, it's the business end and we have to be more ruthless."

There was much interest over Vardy, as well, and the hotshot striker was training as usual with the rest of the team in Chantilly yesterday as news of his new four-year contract with Leicester City was announced by the Premier League champions.

Sporting a trademark white cast on his right wrist, the 29-year-old took part in a session that was fully open to the media beneath baking sunshine at England's Stade des Bourgognes training base.

After two days off, it marked the beginning of their preparations for the last 16.

Vardy, who scored 24 Premier League goals last season, is believed to have rejected an offer from Arsenal in order to commit his future to Leicester, who he joined in 2012.

Some believe he will start against Iceland, while other experts have predicted a return for Harry Kane, but whoever starts upfront for England, the message is simple - score goals.

Iceland marked their maiden European Championship appearance by finishing second in Group F with four points, and coach Hodgson believes he knows exactly what to expect from the tiny island nation.

"I fear it won't differ enormously from our group games because Iceland aren't an expansive team," said Hodgson.

"I know the coach Lars Lagerback very well and he always prepares his teams extremely well in that way, so I don't think we're going to benefit from lots and lots of space in the game.

"You take what you get in the last 16 and we're just pleased to be there, so we need to make sure we do enough preparation for the game."

- Reuters.

sportsFootballEuro