England have regained the fear factor following a run of “aggressive” wins since the World Cup last summer, skipper Wayne Rooney has said.
Roy Hodgson’s side left Brazil on a low after becoming the first England side since 1958 to exit at the group stage of a World Cup, returning home with their lowest ever points tally.
But since then things have turned around and they will face Italy on Tuesday looking for an eighth straight win, having adopted a more aggressive approach to their games.
“The players are so quick and when we lose the ball we want to be aggressive and win it back quickly,” Rooney said.
“I am sure you have heard the manager talk about those little ‘furies’ – that when we lose the ball we have to win it back as quickly as possible.
“There are times when you go and don’t get it, but that is where the defence probably doesn’t get the credit it deserves because they are pushing in right behind us to close the space off.
“With the players we have got, we have to play like that.”
England cannot always employ the same tactics, but Rooney believes they are getting better at judging when to put teams in “uncomfortable positions”.
“You don’t want to go into games and teams enjoy playing against you,” Rooney said.
“You want teams to look at England and think, ‘we know we have a tough game, it is going to physically hard against them, we are going to have to defend and we are going to have to be good on the ball to keep the ball'”.
“That is what we want teams to feel when they come up against us. Certainly since the World Cup we have done that.”
Tuesday’s match in Italy will be key test for Hodgson’s men, little over nine months since the Azzurri triumphed 2-1 in their World Cup group opener deep in Manaus.
“Obviously it will be a different game again on Tuesday,” Rooney said.
“Italy will be very good on the ball and there will be times when they are able to play out so we have to make sure we pick our moments right and not get picked off.
“It is moving in a good direction. We are learning with every game since the World Cup. We are getting better and there is an excitement back about England.”