Manchester United and Liverpool players share this one common goal

Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard are united in their World Cup hopes.

With club football temporarily halted due to the forthcoming international fixtures, professional players attentions have diverted away from the Premier League and European competition and toward securing World Cup qualification.

While the English national football team top Group H of the European qualifiers, their progression into the tournament finals in Brazil, 2014, is by no means guaranteed as potentially tricky encounters against Montenegro (October 11) and Poland (October 15) await them.

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This, while second-placed Ukraine, who trail Roy Hodgson's Three Lions by a solitary point, have a seemingly easier concluding two fixtures with Poland (home) and San Marino (away).

Divided due to the colours they wear and allegiances they have on most weekends, Liverpool's influential midfielder Steven Gerrard and Manchester United's work-horse Wayne Rooney, will put their rivalries to the side as they share one common goal… ensuring England are able to book tickets to the hottest competition around next summer.

For Gerrard, the clearest motivation will be the nation's past qualification failure, notably, the inability to qualify for the European Championships in 2008. Speaking to the FA, via William Hill, he said: 'It was the lowest experience I have ever had as an England player and I don't want it to happen again. It was a horrible situation to be in. Hopefully the hurt and the pain from that time will help drive us all on.'

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He continued: 'All the players believe, and are very confident, we can get over the line by securing the two wins we need. The responsibility and pressure is on us but you can look at that in two ways. You can be nervous and dread it or you can be excited, really look forward and try to enjoy it. These are the games you dream of from a very young age, to be playing for England with the chance of qualifying for a World Cup in Brazil.'

Rooney, meanwhile, said: 'Would it be unthinkable not to get to Rio? Of course, this is crunch time. They are going to be two tough games, though, because Montenegro and Poland are good sides and their best qualities are on the counter attack.

'We will have to try and break them down and make sure we don't get caught out at the back. I think we'll do it, but nobody should think it's going to be easy.'

Both opponents have their own ambitions of World Cup qualification as, after eight games, third-placed Montenegro are, like Ukraine, just one point off pace-setting England. Fourth-place Poland are three points behind.

image: © pahudson

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