England vs. San Marino  5 - 0

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San Marino striker Rinaldi delighted despite defeat

14 October 2012 00:01

San Marino striker Danilo Rinaldi has revealed he was still 'jumping with joy' despite his side's 5-0 hammering by England on Friday.

The Argentina-born forward was chosen to start against Roy Hodgson's men and played for 78 minutes as the European minnows were swept aside at Wembley in their World Cup qualifier.

But despite the unflattering nature of the scoreline, Rinaldi insists he was simply delighted to play at such a famous stadium.

"To tell you the truth, despite the result, I'm thrilled," he told Goal.com.

"I said before the match that if we lost 4-0 I was going to be jumping on one leg. Well, we lost 5-0 but I'm still jumping with joy.

"Right from when we got to the hotel, arriving at the stadium. I felt I was part of something really big. Everything was beautiful.

"Training at Wembley the day before the match, every moment I've lived there. When the manager told me I was going to play up front and I was going to wear the number 10 shirt, it was a very moving moment and very special.

"To face England at Wembley is a unique experience. When we came back to San Marino, I couldn't sleep. I ended up staying up until 9am, running on adrenaline. I couldn't get back to Earth."

The 26-year-old went on to say that he expects his side to change their approach against the more modestly ranked Moldova, but admitted the game will not match up to their last outing.

"We had a day off today and on Sunday we are going to start preparing to face Moldova," he said on Saturday.

"We are surely going to change our tactics to play against them. We want to keep writing this history.

"Nothing compares to Wembley, though. What happened yesterday was unbelievable. I think about it and I still can't quite come to terms with it.

"I even managed to get Frank Lampard's shirt."

Article

Hodgson furious over Walcott challenge

13 October 2012 01:25

England manager Roy Hodgson has slammed the fierce challenge that sent Theo Walcott to hospital in Friday night's clash with San Marino.

Walcott collided with goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini during England's 5-0 World Cup qualifying win at Wembley Stadium, with the Arsenal winger to spend the night in hospital after suffering suspected broken ribs.

He will be assessed further ahead of Tuesday's game with Poland.

"I think if I were to describe it was reckless I would be being kind," Hodgson told reporters.

"It was a very fierce challenge.

"I don't believe for one minute there was any malice in it when he went for the ball (but) irrespective of that it was a very bad challenge and it's put Walcott in hospital we have to wait now and find out the extent of his injury.

"And really and truly when your goalkeeper does that, I think you are very lucky to a) have him still on the field, and b) not have a penalty given against him.

"Theo will now be in hospital overnight. It's a chest injury, and obviously didn't look too good but until such time as they've x-rayed it and scanned it we really don't know."

Although the incident put a dampener on the routine victory for the Three Lions, Hodgson insisted he was happy with the win and was keen to look at the positives, both at Wembley and elsewhere on the night.

"It was attack versus defence really, wasn't it? Usually when you do attack versus defence in practice you don't put seven or eight players in the penalty box all of the time, only occasionally," Hodgson said.

"But I thought the way we approached the game from the first minute to the last was terrific, we were patient, I thought we probed, we created chances on a regular basis throughout the 90 minutes.

"We were good value for our five goals.

"There could have been a lot more goals but certainly there was an awful lot of goal mouth action, a lot of passing, a lot of quality passing throughout the course of the game.

"Also, there were almost 85,000 people, which I thought that was quite fantastic. So that's two extremely positive aspects of the evening.

"I suppose the third positive aspect of the evening happened in Moldova as Ukraine could only succeed in drawing and not winning there as most people expected them to do which of course means that our three points here and our three points in Moldova weigh that bit more heavy."

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Mature Rooney ready to lead

12 October 2012 14:21

England striker Wayne Rooney said he deserves the captaincy for Friday's World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

The 26-year-old will take the armband due to Steven Gerrard's absence through suspension and vice captain Frank Lampard's withdrawal through injury.

And he insists he is ready for the responsibility, having learned from his mistakes and due to his experience as captain at club level.

"I've captained United a few times in the Champions League and different competitions," Rooney told The Mirror.

"I know it's a great responsibility for me to take, but I feel I've matured as a player in my game. I feel I've learned the game better, and have a different style.

"Whatever the manager asks me to do, I can do it. Hopefully I can help the players and myself.

"Of course, I know now there is more responsibility on the pitch for me not to do what I did against Montenegro (being sent off).

"That was a stupid thing to do, and I regretted it as soon as I'd done it. I apologised and paid the price. It won't be happening again, I can promise.

"After that, at club level, you saw a different person. I cut out a lot of the silly tackles and mistakes I made as a young player. I have no issue with that."

Rooney hit the headlines at the 2010 World Cup after lashing out at booing fans on camera following a disappointing 0-0 draw with Algeria, but he blames himself for the incident.

"That was partly to do with my own performance. I was looking for a way to justify it. The England fans have been great," Rooney added.

"They're always there in their thousands. Since then, I'm a different player.

"I've matured more as a player and a person. You realise you don't want to make the wrong type of headlines and miss games you don't want to be missing."

The former Everton striker also cited Roy Keane and current full-time England skipper Gerrard as the biggest inspirations for him as a leader.

"Roy Keane was a big captain for me. Seeing how he played on the pitch and dealt with things off it," he said.

"He was vocal on the pitch and helped me off it. He was a great captain.

"I had a few rucks with him, we had a few debates – but that was because we wanted to win. I wasn't scared, not fearful. I respected him.

"But also Steven Gerrard, his determination as a player. I've seen his passion and desire to play for Liverpool and England, and that's fantastic. He's certainly been an inspiration in my career.

"So I don't think I'm going to change my attitude because I'm wearing the armband.

"I'm quite vocal on the pitch, and tend to play with determination which I hope can lift players and fans."

Article

World Cup qualifying preview: England v San Marino

12 October 2012 09:54

Anything less than a big win will be a disappointment for England as they prepare to face San Marino at Wembley on Friday.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier is a genuine mismatch with Roy Hodgson's side ranked fifth in the world, 202 places above their opponents.

No country in the world is ranked lower than Giampaolo Mazza's side, with Bhutan and the Turks and Caicos Islands joining them at 207th in the world.

San Marino have lost their last 47 matches and have won just once from 112 matches overall.

They have scored 19 goals, conceding 480 in the process, making the result of the match almost a foregone conclusion.

But for Hodgson, a series of issues still to resolve mean the Group H clash carries a lot more weight than simply the result.

Firstly, the experienced manager must choose how to approach life without John Terry.

The Chelsea captain decided to retire from international football a fortnight ago, just before the Football Association found him guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.

Terry – who made 78 appearances for his country and was a mainstay at the back – was injured for last month's 1-1 draw against Ukraine, also in a World Cup qualifier, with Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott deputising at the back.

Both played together at Everton and Hodgson could stick with the pair, but he also has options in Chelsea's Gary Cahill or Stoke City's uncapped Ryan Shawcross.

And with Manchester United duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling still out injured, Hodgson has an array of options at his disposal despite the high-profile exit of Terry.

Despite abusing the FA on Twitter, left-back Ashley Cole has avoided suspension and should play, which would give him his 99th cap for his country.

Everton's Leighton Baines is likely to make way despite his impressive form at Goodison Park.

The England boss also has selection headaches up front, with Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney set to return after suffering a gashed thigh in August, while the likes of Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll have impressed at club level.

Rooney needs the run and is expected to play but Hodgson is likely to also experiment with sections of his squad against an unheralded opponent, particularly given his side face a tougher qualifier in Poland on Tuesday.

Article

Rooney set to lead England

11 October 2012 15:36

England striker Wayne Rooney will captain his nation for the visit of San Marino to Wembley for their World Cup qualifier on Friday.

The Manchester United star will lead out the Three Lions in the absence of regular skipper Steven Gerrard - who is suspended following his dismissal against Ukraine - and Frank Lampard, who was forced to withdraw from the squad with a thigh injury sustained in Chelsea's victory over Norwich on Saturday.

It is almost three years since Rooney captained his country, with the number 10 wearing the armband most recently in a friendly against Brazil in Doha in November 2009 - a match they lost 1-0.

He is yet to score for United this Premier League season but has been widely praised for his performances since returning from a gashed leg sustained against Fulham, having a hand in two goals in United's 3-0 away win over Newcastle on Sunday.

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Lampard out of San Marino clash

11 October 2012 11:55

England midfielder Frank Lampard has been ruled out of Friday's World Cup qualifier with San Marino.

The Chelsea man has failed to overcome a knee problem and has returned to his club in a bid to regain fitness before Tuesday's meeting with Poland in Warsaw.

Lampard's absence increases the likelihood of Roy Hodgson deploying Wayne Rooney in midfield - a role he has taken up at Manchester United recently.

Rooney could also be named as captain with Steven Gerrard suspended.

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Walker hails Neville knowledge

10 October 2012 17:04

Kyle Walker said the tutelage of Gary Neville has improved the defensive side of his game as he prepares for his first start for England.

Walker, last season's PFA Young Player of the Year, is expected to replace the suspended Glen Johnson at right-back against San Marino.

And the Tottenham defender has credited the former Manchester United and England full-back with aiding his development and knowledge of the position.

"I'm young, I want to improve, I want to become the best I can be and Gary Neville is really helping me with that aim," Walker said.

"He's a player I looked up to and watched often. He had a fantastic career. He gives me tips and coaches me through things. I'm excited to be working with him.

"I've always liked to go forward but he has helped massively in terms of myself improving defensively. I just want to keep on learning."

Walker missed out on a place at Euro 2012 with a toe injury, but now hopes to make his first competitive start and establish himself in the national team.

"On a personal note it is a fantastic opportunity for me to get into the team," he added.

"I've been patient and waited for that.

"Hopefully on Friday I can show everyone what I can do and have a good game.

"A first competitive start is what I've been waiting for, for a long time now. For all my career, since I was seven, I've wanted to play for England, and put that jersey on."

If he starts, Walker will not be expected to do much defending against San Marino, but team-mate Joe Hart warns England cannot afford to lose focus, regardless of the opposition.

"Concentration is always key," he said.

"International football is not often 'you have a go and then we'll have a go'. It's a chess game.

"I imagine, like most teams when they come to Wembley, San Marino are going to try and get people behind the ball."

The Three Lions sit third in their qualifying group, after winning away in Moldova before drawing at home to Ukraine in September.

Three points will be expected on Friday but, with a tricky away fixture with Poland on the horizon, England's number one shot-stopper is looking for the side to step it up and qualify as soon as possible.

"We really need to push on from here," he added. "You have got to look to win all your games until you have potentially qualified.

"In the group stages, when you are qualifying for a World Cup, you know there is so much for the taking but there are not that many games and you have to get things right.

"We'll start by trying to do that on Friday after a good battling point against Ukraine in the last game."

Article

Hodgson names England squad

4 October 2012 12:38

Roy Hodgson has announced his England squad for the World cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

There are call-ups for Kieran Gibbs and Ryan Shawcross but no place for Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand despite the international retirement of John Terry.

Terry's Chelsea team-mate Gary Cahill retains his place in the squad alongside fellow centre-backs Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, while Arsenal's Gibbs joins Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines and Kyle Walker as the defensive options.

Aaron Lennon, meanwhile, joins the likes of Adam Johnson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott in midfield, with Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll returning to the squad after injury.

The Three Lions face San Marino at Wembley on October 12 before heading to Poland for the clash on October 16.

England squad:
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster, Joe Hart, John Ruddy
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Kieran Gibbs, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, Ryan Shawcross, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Adam Johnson, Aaron Lennon, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott
Forwards: Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Welbeck