6 September 2014 15:15
Wayne Rooney has called for England to raise their game as they prepare to start their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign against Switzerland.
England came in for more criticism following their lacklustre display in a 1-0 friendly victory against Norway on Wednesday, which was watched by the lowest crowd for a full international fixture at Wembley since the stadium was re-opened seven-and-a-half years ago.
Manager Roy Hodgson did not take kindly to being told that his side managed only two shots on target in that unconvincing win, which was England’s first game since they crashed out of the World Cup with a whimper after picking up only one point in the group stage.
England now face what is expected to be their most difficult game in Group E when they take on the Swiss in Basle, with the hosts having given a far better account of themselves in Brazil as they reached the last 16.
New captain Rooney, who scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot against Norway, believes England have enough quality to silence their critics and stressed that now is the time to lift the gloom as they attempt to reach the European Championship in France.
“If you look at the squad, with Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, they are doing great for their teams in the Premier League,” said Rooney.
“Being part of a World Cup and seeing how it is can only give them great experience for future tournaments, but we all have to stand up now and make sure we qualify for Euro 2016.”
Defender Gary Cahill is under no illusions over the task England face at St Jakob-Park in what will be Vladimir Petkovic’s first competitive game in charge of Switzerland since he replaced Ottmar Hitzfeld as coach.
The Chelsea centre-back said: “We’ve got a huge game on Monday and we know it is going to be very, very tough but it’s a chance for us to bounce back in a game which really matters.
“It’s certainly one of the hardest games for us in the group. It’s a great opportunity for us to go and bounce back from the summer.”
Switzerland suffered World Cup heartbreak when Angel di Maria struck two minutes before the end of extra-time to send Argentina into the quarter-finals and ensure Hitzfeld’s reign ended in cruel fashion.
Former Lazio coach Petkovic has been charged with the task of building on the good work done by his German predecessor and will be eager to heap more misery on Hodgson – who guided Switzerland to the World Cup in 1994.
Petkovic has recalled midfielder duo Pajtim Kasami and Fabian Frei, who both missed out a place in Switzerland’s World Cup squad, while Augsburg goalkeeper Marwin Hitz, Benfica defender Loris Benito and Udinese defender Silvan Widmer received their first call-ups.
Hodgson suffered a blow when striker Sturridge was ruled out with a thigh problem on Friday, while Jack Colback and Ben Foster will also play no part due to injury.