Rooney and Hodgson refuse to rise to Bale’s taunts as England take on Wales at Euro 2016
Real Madrid star said none of England’s players would get in Wales team
England captain Wayne Rooney produced a sharp turn of foot on Wednesday when asked how many Wales players would get into his team.
When Gareth Bale was asked how many players from England would get into the Wales side, ahead of the neighbours’ Euro 2016 showdown in Lens on Thursday, the grinning Welsh star had replied: “None.”
The question was flipped around for England’s pre-game press conference, but Rooney only gestured to manager Roy Hodgson and said: “I don’t know. That’s something you have to ask Roy!”
Hodgson was more expansive, but he also refused to take the bait.
“I think that’s a question that many a journalist in the mass media and maybe many a fan would be asking,” he told reporters.
“But I’ve got to be honest with you, I’ve never, ever as a coach of a team considered which of these players would get into our team and which of our players would get into their team.
“It’s a matter of total disinterest to me because none of those Welsh players are available to play for England.
“So I’m afraid I’ll have to throw the question back at you and say I’ll leave you to come up with the answer to that.
“You can decide and you can even have a little quiz amongst yourselves and put your teams together. I’d be interested to see what results you come up with.”
Wales’s opening 2-1 win over Slovakia, coupled with England’s 1-1 draw with Russia, puts Chris Coleman’s side in the driving seat and Bale has been trying to crank up the pressure on Hodgson’s men.
The Real Madrid forward said that England “big themselves up before they’ve done anything”, which prompted Hodgson to retort that he had been “disrespectful”.
“It surprises me that people are focusing so much on the talking,” said Hodgson, who has a fully fit squad.
“Wayne and I have been in football a long time. If we really took things seriously, thinking about what people in the other team are saying, and allowed that to affect our concentration in any way, we’d be very ashamed of ourselves.
“I’m a little bit surprised those questions are coming our way because talk is talk and action on the field is action on the field.”
Asked for his thoughts on Bale’s remarks, Rooney said: “We’ve been preparing for this game as we always do, behind closed doors.
“All the information we need, we’ve worked on on the training pitch or in meetings. You’ll have to ask the Wales lads what they mean by the comments, because it’s them who’ve come out with them.
“We’re just focused on preparing for the game.”
Hodgson said that the rivalry between the two countries would only add to the sense of the occasion.
“The derby atmosphere, that’s great,” he said. “Many, many people in England and Great Britain are looking forward to this game -- we certainly are -- and perhaps even around the world.
“It is a game between brothers, if you like. It adds spice, adds interest. That’s something which I can only welcome. If anything, it heightens the occasion, rather than lessens it.”