Wayne Rooney is our captain and won’t be discarded, says Roy Hodgson
The England manager says he is unhappy by suggestions that the injured Manchester United player may be abandoned because others are scoring
England manager Roy Hodgson has spoken out in support of Wayne Rooney after Saturday’s 3-2 comeback win over Germany sparked renewed debate about where the absent captain fits in his Euro 2016 plans.
England fell 2-0 behind to the world champions in Berlin before the Premier League’s two leading scorers, Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, levelled with superb goals.
Hodgson told the BBC on Sunday that suggestions Rooney should make way for the emerging strikers were unwelcome.
“I have to repeat Wayne is our captain and he has captained the team extremely well in the past two years,” he said.
“He took us through a qualifying campaign where we had complete success with 10 wins out of 10. It doesn’t please me too much that it is suggested now that the moment he is injured and doesn’t play he gets jettisoned in some way.
“He doesn’t deserve that,” added the manager.
Many observers, including Germany’s former World Cup-winning captain Lothar Matthaeus, made teenager Dele Alli the man of the match in what Hodgson called his best night as England manager.
Alli, 19, played in the No10 role just behind the main striker, which is arguably Rooney’s most effective position.
When playing as a lone striker, the Manchester United captain has often looked isolated and become frustrated by a lack of involvement, tending to drop too deep to seek the ball.
Before injuring a knee against Sunderland on Feb. 13 Rooney was on a good run, but still has only seven league goals this season -- like Alli -- compared to Kane’s 21 and Vardy’s 19.
Hodgson said, however, that Rooney would show what he was made of.
“When he comes back and is fit again, he is going to be putting enormous pressure on these players, just like these players will be putting enormous pressure on him - and this is the situation we are looking forward to,” he said.
Geoff Hurst, whose hat-trick won England the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany, believes Vardy could be a surprise package in the European Championship finals in France.
“He’s come from nowhere, a very good level-headed guy who’s very sensible, very intelligent,” Hurst told the BBC on Sunday.
“Either Harry Kane or Vardy definitely deserve their place with the season they’ve had.
“And Alli has made an impact not just at club level but in internationals.”
Under-achievers at recent international tournaments, England have often been criticised for taking players who were not 100 per cent fit -- including Rooney at the 2006 World Cup.
Trevor Brooking, the FA’s director of football development from 2004-14, told the BBC the most important thing for Rooney was to be fully fit this time.
“The starting point is get himself fit because he’s not an automatic choice to come back in, with the side as they have done without him,” he said. “He’s not quite cracked tournaments for England.
“You’ve got three warm-up games in May and June and Wayne’s got to prove he’s worth his place,” added Brooking.
“It’s very tempting to have Kane and Alli as automatic choices if they stay fit and continue playing like they are. Then you’ve got the option to bring Jamie Vardy on.”
With 51 international goals, Rooney is England’s record scorer and his 109 appearances make him the country’s fourth most capped player.
Suddenly, however, the prospect of Rooney catching Steven Gerrard (114 caps) and David Beckham (115), let alone goalkeeper Peter Shilton (125) looks less than a formality.