Rooney important to Hodgson


Wayne Rooney

London — Wayne Rooney is an integral part of the England set-up, regardless of whether he is playing regular first-team club football, national manager Roy Hodgson said yesterday.The 27-year-old’s future at Manchester United remains uncertain, with the striker unsettled at Old Trafford and Chelsea having shown interest in the player.

Hodgson conceded that he would prefer Rooney’s future to be decided, even if United manager David Moyes insisted that he was not for sale, but said he had encountered similar situations before.

“In my year and a bit as national team manager, I have been faced many many times with situations where players are not necessarily always playing in their team,” he told a news conference.

“But because they have the talent and the quality and the skills we are looking for they have still managed to be selected,” Hodgson said before England’s friendly with Scotland tomorrow.

He added: “Rooney will always be considered for England while he’s physically fit because he’s one of our best players.”
In addition to his reported desire to leave Manchester United, Rooney has been struggling to return from injury that kept him out of the English Premier League champions’ pre-season tour of Asia and Sunday’s Charity Shield.

Rooney was seen training with the squad at England’s St George’s Park training ground near Burton-upon-Trent, central England, yesterday morning and Hodgson said he came through “as expected”.

“It’s always difficult to know or to assess with the naked eye how fit or how match-fit people are, but there was no doubt in my mind that he’s not suffering from any physical injury,” Hodgson added.

“It will be interesting to get the feedback from our training sessions and we can see how he looks . . . I’m expecting him to tell me that everything was  fine and that he’s fit and raring to go tomorrow morning.”

England versus Scotland is the world’s oldest international fixture and was an annual event until 1989.
Tomorrow’s match at Wembley is the first between the neighbours and rivals in 14 years and has led to calls for the annual fixture to be revived.

The match comes just three days before the start of the 2013-14 English Premier League season and two weeks into the new Scottish Premier League campaign.
But Hodgson said he was unperturbed by critics who feared injuries to key players, adding that the date was decided by Fifa for friendly internationals across the world.

“As far as I’m concerned the date is the date that we have been given and the match is the match that I’m really keen to play,” he added.
“If it falls kindly or unkindly for the Premier League that will have to be as it is.”

Hodgson said Scotland would prove tough opposition and were “highly motivated” to beat England because of the history between the two teams, which would be ideal preparation for the next round of World Cup qualifying matches from next month.

“You can’t always guarantee that the team on the opposite side to you has the same interest or the preparation that you have but we know that’s not the case here,” he added. — AFP.

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