ROTENBURG, June 19 (Reuters) - England's fit-again Wayne Rooney can be the key to help Trinidad and Tobago reach the second round of the World Cup, the Caribbean team's midfielder Chris Birchall said on Monday.
Trinidad, appearing at the finals for the first time and the smallest nation here, are hoping England, already through to the last 16, can do them a favour by beating Sweden in their final Group B game on Tuesday.
Victory for the English over the Swedes, combined with a Trinidad win over already-eliminated Paraguay, could see the Caribbean side progress, should they have a better goal difference than the Scandinavians.
English-born Birchall sees Rooney's role as crucial to his adopted country's chances of reaching the second phase.
'Wayne Rooney can be the difference against Sweden, he can score in literally any second of the game and set the world alight,' Birchall told Reuters in an interview at the Trinidad team camp.
'But it's not just his footballing ability. He gives England a massive boost, the fans, the players and if he plays then you will see England rushing forward and scoring goals which is what we need.'
Rooney looks set to start against Sweden after coming on as substitute against Trinidad for his first appearance at the finals. The 20-year-old Manchester United forward fractured a metatarsal bone in his right foot on April 29.
England beat Trinidad 2-0 with two late goals, but a scoreless draw against the Swedes in their opening game in which they also had a man sent off, means Trinidad are still very much alive in the competition.
'He (Rooney) probably wasn't at his best against us and you can't expect that and the press need to accept that, but when he came on, you could feel the difference on the pitch,' Birchall said. 'He was what lifted England against us.'
Reaching the next round would mark a new chapter in a fairytale story for Birchall, the first white man to play for Trinidad and Tobago in 60 years. He qualifies through his mother who was born in Trinidad and made his debut just 13 months ago.
'Of course, none of us want this dream to end and I am sure England can do us a favour, they were more ruthless in the last 10 minutes against us,' Birchall said.
'If England score in the first 10 minutes, then they will go on and win by a few goals. It really depends if Rooney starts or Michael Owen finds his form.'