Rooney to captain England against San Marino
England manager Roy Hodgson has named Wayne Rooney as captain for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against San Marino at Wembley.
With regular skipper Steven Gerrard suspended and vice-captain Frank Lampard ruled out due to a knee injury, Hodgson has opted to give the armband to Manchester United striker Rooney.
Rooney has previously captained England once before for a friendly defeat against Brazil in Doha in 2009, but this will be his first competitive match as skipper.
Hodgson’s decision to pick Rooney ahead of Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart -- regarded as the only other serious candidate for the role -- makes it a double celebration for the 26-year-old, as it comes just a day after it was revealed his wife Coleen is expecting the couple’s second child.
“It’s a great honour, it’s something I’m really proud of,” Rooney said at a pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“It’s a big challenge for myself. I’m really looking forward to it and excited, and hopefully we can cap the day off with a good victory.”
Gerrard is expected to regain the armband when he returns from suspension for Tuesday’s qualifier in Poland, but Hodgson believes Rooney will be a fine deputy despite concerns about his volatile temperament.
“I’ve enjoyed working with Wayne. We had a good Euros and I enjoyed working with him there,” Hodgson said.
“I was disappointed when he got that terrible gash (while playing for United in a league game against Fulham in August) and I was even worried it could rule him out of not only the September games, but also the October games.
“Luckily he’s made a very quick recovery and now he’s available for the games, and he’ll certainly captain the team in the first one.”
Hodgson was unwilling to reveal the rest of his team for Friday’s game, but he did hint he may rest players against San Marino to keep them fresh for the more testing clash with Poland.
“I haven’t told any other players who’ll be playing and who won’t be,” Hodgson said.
“It might be a question of utilising the squad in a different way because we have a very important game in Poland on Tuesday.
“Knowing that whatever team I choose at Wembley is likely to be able to win that game, how many players do I spare and keep fitter and fresher for the game on Tuesday? That’s been the decision to be made.”
Chelsea duo Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand will definitely be absent against San Marino due to injury and illness respectively, but Hodgson has not ruled them out of the Poland game.
“Frank had a scan earlier in the week and tried to train apart from the team but do a bit more on Wednesday morning, and he still felt a slight problem with his calf,” Hodgson said.
“It was re-scanned and they found a few fibres where there’s been a slight tear. It’s not a major problem but it was decided the best thing is to let him go back to his club to get treatment on a daily basis there, and we’ll re-assess on Sunday.
“When Ryan Bertrand fell ill we were hoping it would just be one of those 24-hour things but it’s turned out to be a bit more of a serious illness than that.”
Bertrand’s illness was initially reported as merely a sore throat, prompting him to issue a clarification on Twitter featuring an expletive for which he later apologised.
And Hodgson said: “I think his sentiments were laudable, telling how much he wants to play for England and being a bit irritated that someone should suggest he doesn’t play when he gets a sore throat, but his choice of words was wrong.
“I’m pleased to see he’s apologised for it. I believe there’s not really a question from the FA’s point of view that he’ll be charged but it’s a lesson that needs to be learned and that we can all learn from.”