Wembley a fitting place as Rooney aims for record 50th goal

While Wayne Rooney can set a new England scoring record tonight, the Euro 2016 qualifier can also give Switzerland at least a play-off berth if they win at Wembley.
While Wayne Rooney can set a new England scoring record tonight, the Euro 2016 qualifier can also give Switzerland at least a play-off berth if they win at Wembley.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Having matched Bobby Charlton's England scoring record against San Marino, Wayne Rooney plans to set a new mark in front of a home crowd against Switzerland at Wembley today.

His penalty opener in Saturday's 6-0 win in San Marino, which secured a place at Euro 2016, was his 49th international goal.

It leaves him needing one more to become the first England footballer to reach a half-century.

Substituted mid-way through the second half in Serravalle, Rooney believes it will be more fitting if he breaks the record at Wembley.

But he admits that it is trophies, rather than personal milestones, that fire him up.

"To do it at Wembley would be a lot more special and, hopefully on Tuesday, I can do that," the Manchester United striker said.

"It was my 106th game and as much as I love playing for England and scoring goals, there would be nothing better than being successful with England and that's all any player wants to do."

Manager Roy Hodgson will want Rooney to score and his team to make sure of top spot in Group E though a draw will also do. He wants to use the remaining qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania in October to experiment.

"Hopefully, one point on Tuesday night and we will have won the group as well," said Hodgson.

His side have won all six group games since beating Switzerland 2-0 in Basel in their first match.

The manager, however, received a setback yesterday when experienced midfielder Michael Carrick pulled out of the squad with an undisclosed injury .

It is another blow for Hodgson as he tries to establish his strongest side for Euro 2016 in France.

The match against Switzerland, the world's 17th-ranked side, will provide a more honest test of England's form.

But Hodgson will still be without Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge due to injuries.

In a previous job, Hodgson led Switzerland to the World Cup finals in 1994 - the first time they had reached the tournament since 1966. And the country he once called home is hoping he might do them another favour.

Switzerland's qualification hopes looked in serious jeopardy after they trailed 0-2 at home to Slovenia on Saturday. But a late fightback yielded a 3-2 win that means they can secure at least a play-off place by winning at Wembley.

Meanwhile, Spain have one main aim when they face Macedonia in their Euro 2016 qualifier today and that is to score goals.

Although Spain moved to the top of their qualifying group with a 2-0 win over Slovakia on Saturday, coach Vicente del Bosque was annoyed that his men were not able to turn the 75 per cent possession into more goals or shots on target.

He will probably keep faith with Diego Costa in attack, even though he has gone for over 500 minutes in the national shirt without scoring. XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'Wembley a fitting place as Rooney aims for record 50th goal'. Print Edition | Subscribe