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Page last updated at 09:01 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 10:01 UK

Rooney enjoys 'career-best form'

Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney
Gerrard (left) and Rooney were instrumental in England's victory

Wayne Rooney says he is in the best form of his international career following his double in England's 3-1 World Cup qualifying win in Belarus.

The striker has scored five goals in his last three international appearances to help England open up a five-point lead in Group Six.

Manchester United star Rooney told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I think it's probably the best I've ever played for England.

"I'm enjoying my football, getting on the ball and scoring and making goals."

England top Group Six following four wins from their opening four matches - a record-breaking start to a World Cup qualifying campaign.

Rooney's second-half double took England's qualification goals tally to 14, while the 22-year-old has seven goals in his last five games for club and country.

"I'm really pleased with my goals," he added. "You try to play with a smile on your face sometimes but its hard to smile when things aren't going right

Capello praises Rooney's versatility

"But I'm in good goalscoring form for club and country and hopefully that can continue.

"We've got players who can score from all areas of the pitch, it's nice to see it come together, its been a while since we've been in this form for England."

Rooney revealed coach Fabio Capello had been a major factor in his return to form.

"He has helped me with my finishing and we've worked a lot on that," he added. He gives you advice on movement and where the spaces are to get into good positions. I'm looking forward to meeting up with him and working with him and improving."

Steven Gerrard, who set up England's win with a stunning 30-yard opener, praised the strike pairing of Rooney and Emile Heskey.

He said: "Wayne's present form is unbelievable, if we get him in that kind of form he will certainly improve our team. This team is slowly building into a good team but we need to keep working hard and stay humble - the manager is slowly building a good team.

"Emile Heskey deserves a special mention for his performance. The players appreciate his work-rate, his presence and his size - what he did for Wayne's first goal was absolutely magic."

Capello was delighted with his side's win in Minsk and particularly pleased with their second-half performance.

The Italian told BBC Radio 5 Live: "In the first half Belarus played very well, but in the second half we played better and the result is fantastic.

"Wayne Rooney is a very important player for us. He scored two goals but more importantly the team played well.

"All the players did everything that I asked of them during the game."

England found themselves pegged back after a period of pressure from Belarus that led to an equaliser from Pavel Sitko.

Capello admitted there was a spell when England were inferior and also revealed how he made his side more solid after the interval.

"For 10 minutes in the first half Belarus played better than us, playing lots of short passes, and we had some problems," he said.

"In the first half sometimes it was Gerrard in the midfield and sometimes it was Rooney and sometimes it was Emile Heskey - they interchanged a lot.

"In the second half I fixed the positions of the players."


Despite England's perfect start, Capello made it clear there is to be no period of self-congratulation as England take a break from the qualification campaign, with their next World Cup match at home to Ukraine on 1 April next year.

Before then England will play friendly matches against Germany and Spain, and Capello already has plans to use the fixtures to assess his options.

"We have two important friendlies," he said. "I can change something and will put other players in the team. I would like to look at some new players."

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see also
Belarus 1-3 England
15 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Rooney comes of age
15 Oct 08 |  Football
World Cup qualifiers as they happened
15 Oct 08 |  Internationals
England pre-Capello was 'circus'
15 Oct 08 |  Internationals
International football photos
15 Oct 08 |  Internationals
From bullets in Baghdad to Belarus
14 Oct 08 |  Internationals
England 5-1 Kazakhstan
11 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Pick your England XI
31 Aug 07 |  Internationals

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