England boss Roy Hodgson has launched a defiant defence of Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney amid growing calls for him to be dropped from his starting line-up for Euro 2016.
Rooney was absent through injury as the Three Lions claimed a famous 3-2 win over Germany on Saturday night in Berlin, having fallen 2-0 down.
Goals from Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Eric Dier turned the game on its head, and produced a timely confidence boost for Hodgson’s men ahead of Euro 2016 this summer.
However, it has been argued in some quarters that the performance was the ideal example of why England should drop Rooney, with their new-look attacking line-up likely to cause all sorts of problems for their rivals in France.
Nevertheless, Hodgson has stood firm and believes that it is unfair to just dismiss Rooney as he hinted that his captain will have a major role to play for his side moving forward.
“It doesn’t please me too much that it is suggested now that the moment he gets injured and doesn’t play he gets jettisoned in some way,” Hodgson said, as reported by Sky Sports.
“I haven’t given a thought to that. I’m too busy enjoying the fact that Danny Welbeck came back and did well, Vardy came on and did well and Kane I thought was excellent throughout the game.
“I have to repeat, he is our captain and he has captained the team extremely well in the last two years. He took us through a qualifying campaign where we had a complete success with 10 wins out of 10.
“He certainly doesn’t deserve that (to have his place questioned) and when he comes back and he 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 that is the situation we are looking forward to.”
Rooney has struggled with his form for United this season prior to picking up a serious knee injury, having scored just 14 goals in 32 appearances in all competitions for Louis van Gaal’s side.
While those struggles can partly be attributed to the Dutchman’s style of play which has made it difficult for the 30-year-old to be effective, it doesn’t reflect well when making an argument against the likes of Kane and Vardy who are competing for a starting berth this summer.
Rooney still undoubtedly has an important role to play for England, and although he hasn’t been able to bring success in previous major tournaments he has featured in, he is still regarded as one of the top players in Europe.
However, perhaps it is time for England to move forward and prioritise others who have impressed this season and who fit well with their renewed attacking verve and tempo.