Wayne Rooney England
England forward Wayne Rooney will look to break his World Cup duck in BrazilReuters

Wayne Rooney has been an enigma for England at World Cups – unable to provide that magical spark he is so capable of in the biggest stage of them all.

Having not scored in a single World Cup match, pressure to perform is as high as they come for Rooney, and according to a man who has set the World Cup alight on more than one occasion, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil might just be Rooney's time.

"Wayne Rooney has not scored [in a World Cup finals] but he was fantastic for the team," the legendary Pele told Sky Sports News. "He was always the player who fought more for the team. I would like him in my team, you know."

England have been drawn in a difficult Group D alongside Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica, and a lot will depend on how Roy Hodgson's men start the tournament when they take on the Italians in Manaus on Saturday.

Italy inflicted another penalty shootout loss on England at Euro 2012 two years ago, a game in which the English struggled to contain the exemplary Andrea Pirlo. Pele, though, believes England are capable of coming out of the group to qualify for the knockout rounds.

"England have a difficult group but I think they could pass," the three-time World Cup winner added. "The World Cup is a very short tournament and the experienced players always do well."

Another player who will play a vital role for England at the World Cup is skipper Steven Gerrard. Doubts over Gerrard's fitness increased when the midfielder left midway through an open training session on Monday.

Hodgson, though, tempered any worries by insisting his captain was in the pink of condition. "There is nothing wrong with Steven Gerrard," he told reporters. "I don't really understand [why people think Gerrard has an injury].

"My understanding is yesterday he did some extra work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with him."

A player who will definitely miss the Italy game, though, is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The midfielder suffered a knee injury during a friendly against Ecuador last week, and while the Arsenal man will not be available for England's opener, Hodgson is confident Oxlade-Chamberlain will be available for their second match against Uruguay.

"Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has done well and we will be stepping up his training program during the course of the week," he added. "The medics are hopeful he will be fit by the second game."

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