Gerrard admits Rooney is key

England's World Cup chances hinge on keeping in-form striker Wayne Rooney fit, according to Steven Gerrard.

Stand-in captain Gerrard will lead England in Wednesday's friendly against Egypt in the absence through injury of Rio Ferdinand and the Liverpool skipper is looking for Rooney to continue his red-hot scoring run.

Rooney notched his 28th goal of the season in Manchester United's Carling Cup Final victory over Aston Villa on Sunday.

Fears over a knee injury have subsided ahead of the friendly against the Africa Cup of Nations winners at Wembley and Gerrard believes a fit Rooney will be key to England's hopes in South Africa.

"For England, I hope Wayne can sustain the way he is playing until mid-July," he explained.

"His form this season has been special and I agree with (United boss) Sir Alex Ferguson in that he is now in that bracket of world class and is up there with the top players in the world.

"From England's point of view, if Wayne can continue that kind of form until the summer he is going to be a key player for us.

"There are a lot of good players in the England squad but, the form Wayne is in, it is vital that we can keep him fit.

"Everyone will have their fingers crossed he can avoid injury and he is fit and in this form going into the World Cup.

"At the moment, on current form, Wayne is the best player in the world, in my opinion."

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