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Gerrard defends struggling Rooney

1 July 2012 15:25

England captain Steven Gerrard feels Wayne Rooney struggled to cope with the expectations weighing down on him at Euro 2012.

Roy Hodgson's England side exited the competition at the quarter-final stage after losing on penalties to Italy.

Manchester United striker Rooney missed the team's first two group games due to a suspension incurred in England's final qualifier against Montenegro.

Upon his return, he was immediately thrust straight back into the starting line-up and Gerrard believes the pressure may have got to him.

"At this level one of the biggest things is playing without expectation or fear," he said.

"It is only normal if Wayne is weighed down with that feeling of expectation because everyone expects him to do well."

At international level, Rooney has struggled to match the heights he hit as a raw 18-year-old at Euro 2004 in Portugal.

Gerrard believes until responsibility starts to be shared out between the whole squad rather than just a few of the star players, the sort of criticism Rooney has come under will continue.

"Since he's been around, there's been pressure because of his performances in 2004," he said.

"Wayne is expected to come to these tournaments and win them all on his own.

"The responsibility has got to be on all 23 players. It's unfair to look at Wayne and say because he never played well, he's the reason why we don't do well at these tournaments."

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