The City stopper admits the Manchester United striker’s absence will not set the team back as they have plenty of players capable of making the step up to lead the line
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart insists England is strong enough to cope without Wayne Rooney after the Manchester United striker’s dismissal against Montenegro last Friday.
"It's a massive blow for Wayne himself and a blow that one of our better players will be missing,” he told reporters. "It is not a blow for our chances because we've got a great team.
Rooney was sent off with just over 15 minutes remaining in Podgorica for mindlessly kicking Miodrag Dzudovic, and will now at the very least miss England’s first group match of Euro 2012.
Many see Rooney’s suspension as a significant blow to England’s preparations for the tournament, but Hart, who was one of the Three Lions’ most reliable performers throughout qualification, believes otherwise.
"As was proven against Montenegro, people are willing to step up to the mark when required," he said. "After Wayne got sent off, we moved on as a team and Danny Welbeck came on and did really well up front. He did a great job."
More than any individual, Hart believes England’s upturn in form since the World Cup in South Africa last year is the result of a newfound togetherness and team spirit within the camp.
"We're looking good at the moment, playing well and digging in to get results,” he explained. “As a collective unit, we always stick together.
"The lads in the stands stick together, we help each other out, we've got great respect among the squad and we get the results we need.
"It's a great vibe. It's a good place to be at the moment. I look forward to seeing the lads. I look forward to the get-togethers and we enjoy coming together as much as we do."
Now that qualification has been secured, Hart is looking ahead to the clash with world and European champions Spain at Wembley next month, and to Euro 2012 itself.
"Spain should be a bit of fun, shouldn't it," he asked before continuing. "Yes, we need to play teams like that because that's who we'll have to play in tournament football if, fingers crossed, we get through the group stages. That's the business end of the tournament."
He added, "Wembley has a good pitch and the fact it is a friendly will go straight out of the window. It's a chance to test ourselves and I'm sure we will. We're a good team, we're a good football nation, we have to be at tournaments like [Euro 2012]. "