Wayne Rooney dismissed fears he would be a red-card risk in England’s crunch European Championship clash against Ukraine tomorrow.
The final Group D game in Donetsk is expected to see Rooney make his eagerly-anticipated return after sitting out the first two games of the tournament suspended.
Rooney was banned after being sent off for kicking Montenegro’s Miodrag Dzudovic during England’s final qualifier in October.
The Manchester United star has a chequered disciplinary record down the years and was red-carded at the 2006 World Cup.
He also lost his temper with England fans during a poor 2010 tournament, and some have suggested recalling him would be something of a gamble in a heated environment.
However, Rooney has picked up just one yellow card for club and country since October’s moment of madness and was only booked twice all season.
Asked if he needed to channel his aggression in the right way, he said: “I think I have done all season. What happened in Montenegro was a mistake. I understood that and apologised to the guy.
“I’ve paid the price. I’ve had to take it.
“And I have no problems with my attitude or my temperament. I’m happy and I’m ready to play.”
Rooney admitted he feared his suspension, originally three matches before an FA appeal, would cost him his place in England’s squad.
Theo Walcott has given Roy Hodgson an injury scare by limping out of training.
It was thought Hodgson was considering whether to hand Walcott a starting berth in Donetsk following his eye-catching contribution to the win over Sweden.
Now it seems Walcott may not be involved at all after complaining of a “tight hamstring” that forced his withdrawal from yesterday’s closed-doors training session in Krakow.
The Arsenal winger missed two games at the end of the season after suffering a similar problem and Hodgson is now waiting on the assessment of his medical team.
“He has a slight setback,” Hodgson said. “We had to take the precaution of taking him from the field because he felt some tightness in the hamstring that kept him out for so long at the end of the season.
“Whether he is a real contender for a starting position will depend upon what the medical people can tell me.” Hodgson confirmed it was “a major concern”.
Andy Carroll insists England will not settle for the draw against Ukraine which would book their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.
The Liverpool striker, who scored the opening goal in Friday’s win over Sweden, said: “We think we can finish the job against Ukraine. We are confident.
“We showed what we are about against Sweden after going behind and have put ourselves in with a good chance of qualifying. Things are in our hands.
“We will just need a point on Tuesday but we will go there and try and get the win. That’s the way we are and approach games.”
Carroll or Danny Welbeck, who also scored against Sweden, are likely to make way for Rooney.
But Carroll insists it is only positive for England’s hopes of progressing in the tournament that Rooney is back.
He said: “Wayne is fantastic. He is back involved now, and it is great for us and for him. “It’s massive, it does give everyone in the squad a lift, and he is a great player.
“He has got awesome qualities. That is what we need really. In training he has done everything.”
Ukraine are sweating over the fitness of veteran striker Andriy Shevchenko ahead of Tuesday’s decider..
Shevchenko, who scored both the co-hosts’ goals in their win over Sweden, was absent from yesterday’s open training session with a knee problem.
The former Chelsea player is in the twilight of his career but his absence against Roy Hodgson’s side would still be a massive blow to Ukraine, who need to win to reach the quarter-finals.
Ukraine media manager Oleksandr Hlyvynskyy confirmed: “Shevchenko got two kicks on the knee, the first one against Sweden in the second half and the second one was against France.
“There is water (fluid) on the knee. He is doubtful, yes, but the doctors are giving him some treatment.”