Gerrard: England must pick Rooney
The Manchester United striker is currently banned for the opening three matches - ruling him out of the group stages - after his red card against Montenegro in the final qualifier on 7 October.
A Football Association appeal against the severity of UEFA's punishment seems likely, but Gerrard believes it is worth the risk of taking Rooney to Poland and Ukraine irrespective of whether he has his punishment reduced or not.
"For me he has got to go, the talent that he is," said the Liverpool captain. "He is that good a player I think you have to take the risk and take him. It is devastating he is out for the first three games, it is a massive blow for everyone.
"We will have to see who we come up against in the group games but we should progress from the group stages and then you need your best player out there with you to push on all the way to the final."
Gerrard feels not having Rooney available for the group matches could have a positive effect on the rest of the squad, and he has no concerns about his England team-mate having to sit by and watch the opening matches.
"I don't think anyone needs to keep him involved, he is a good character to have off the pitch," the 31-year-old told talkSPORT.
"Not having him for the first three games will hopefully galvanise the squad. We all need to pull together and take responsibility with him not being there. Then hopefully if we do get out of the group he will be there fit and fresh to help us push on."