Ashley Cole admits England will rely on Wayne Rooney’s “magic” to inspire them to World Cup glory after sealing a quarter-final showdown with Portugal.
Manchester United‘s 20-year-old striker displayed his trademark brilliance in the 1-0 knockout victory over Ecuador.
“If we give him the ball he will create chances or score himself – it is simple,” defender Cole told BBC Sport.
“The more we give it to him the more he can produce his magic. He did well against Ecuador and will get better.”
Rooney has figured in England’s last three games after completing a rapid recovery from a broken foot.
Cole said: “Playing up front on his own against Ecuador was going to be tough for him in these conditions but he has produced for us. He did what we know he can, he held the ball up and gave us time to attack with him. Wayne has also got through 90 minutes and he will now only get stronger, which is great news for us. He will be even better in the next game and he will be enjoying the stage now because he is a big game player. He is world-class and we are delighted he is fit again.”
Cole and Rooney earned the highest ratings from fans in the Player Ratings for the match – getting 7.55 and 7.6 out of 10 respectively.
England’s left-back admitted the team had been frustrated by Ecuador’s dour approach but hopes the more positive style of Portugal will suit them in Saturday’s quarter-final.
Cole said: “I think it has been hard for us so far because every team we have played against has just dropped off and put 10 men behind the ball and it is hard to play quick football because the pitches are so dry. Hopefully, they will come out and attack us and it will be a more open game. We will be happy with that. Everyone knows there is more to come from this team. We have not played anywhere near our capability but we are proud and happy to be through to the quarter-final, even though we are not playing well. If we improve then, hopefully, we will do well.”