Skipper Steven Gerrard has admitted Wayne Rooney has to start delivering goal-power if England are to reach the latter stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Gerrard is relishing linking up again with Rooney against Algeria in Cape Town tonight with the return of Gareth Barry meaning the Liverpool player will have more licence to roam forward. But he is aware Rooney has to start finding the net for his country after netting just once in eight internationals during the past 12 months.
Gerrard said: "Wayne needs a goal, of course. I said all the way through qualifying that, if we got to the World Cup, we'd need Wayne to be our top goalscorer. We need him to score the goals to take us to the later stages of the tournament because he's our main player.
I think the plan is for me to get closer to Wayne and we've had a fantastic understanding in qualification.
"I think the plan is for me to get closer to Wayne and we've had a fantastic understanding in qualification. I like playing with good players - and I enjoy playing with Wayne. I'll certainly be looking to link up well with him. Hopefully I can provide a goal for him to get off the mark."
Gerrard admits it is time for England to improve on their performance in the 1-1 draw with USA and show their qualities. He said: "I think we have to push on now. We wanted three points from the first game and were disappointed to get just one. The dangerous thing now is to underestimate Algeria and think it's an automatic three points, which it's not going to be.
"We've prepared really well for this game, the lads have been really sharp in training, and I feel we're ready to put in a sharp performance. The idea is to put on a good performance as soon as we can. We didn't manage that against the USA and we never clicked for the whole 90 minutes. Hopefully that will happen against Algeria and then everyone will be a lot more positive after the game."
Gerrard impressed against the USA in scoring England's goal, despite his more withdrawn role, but it looking to sustain that form. He said: "It's always important when you go into a big tournament to put in a big performance first of all and to get a goal is an extra bonus. It helps you to settle and takes some of the pressure off so it was an encouraging start to the tournament but I need to continue that now to the end."