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Rooney to lead

Cristiano Ronaldo

London: Wayne Rooney has revealed his pride at being made England captain for the first time in a competitive match — and vowed to get the best out of himself and his team-mates.

Rooney will lead England in Friday’s World Cup qualifier with minnows San Marino at Wembley in the absence of the suspended Steven Gerrard and injured Frank Lampard.

The only other time he led his country was in the friendly international with Brazil in Doha three years ago.

But head coach Roy Hodgson has awarded Rooney the armband in what will be his first appearance for his country since the Euro 2012 finals.

Meanwhile, in other matches, holders Spain face a tricky trip to Belarus in World Cup 2014 qualifying on Friday.

The Spanish know only too well that their Group I game in Minsk is far from a foregone conclusion after midfielder Javi Martinez’s club side Bayern Munich lost 31 at Belarussian champions BATE Borisov in the Champions League last week.

A late 10 win in Georgia for the world and European champions in their group opener last month was also a reminder of the tiresome cliche that there are “no easy games”, even if the Netherlands and England do have simplelooking matches.

Italy and Germany have similar matches to Spain’s, ones they should easily win but that on occasions provide a bolt from the blue. The Germans travel to injuryhit Ireland looking to make it three wins from three in Group C and Euro 2012 runnersup Italy visit unknowns Armenia in Group B.

Germany’s Mario Goetze and Lukas Podolski are nursing minor knocks but will be fit for the Dublin clash, however, defender Mats Hummels is out and captain Philipp Lahm is suspended.

One player expected to fit for arguably the juiciestlooking clash on Friday is Real Madrid’s Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who is in line to face Russia away in Group F having almost recovered from a shoulder injury sustained against Barcelona.

Defender Pepe is a doubt for Portugal with a thigh problem.