Rooney key to Hodgsons England

Last Updated : 28 May 2012 10:17

Wayne Rooney is emerging as the central figure in Roy Hodgson's England plans.

Rooney was absent on Saturday, resting a niggling injury, as England began the Hodgson era with a 1-0 win over Norway in Oslo. The Manchester United striker will also be missing on June 11 when England open their Euro 2012 campaign against France and when they look for their first win over Sweden in a competitive game since 1968.

But his influence remains huge. Hodgson let Ashley Young drift around target man Andy Carroll, which worked a treat as Young scored the winner. What Hodgson was thinking was that the formation suits Rooney to perfection. "Two strikers will be the way forward during my time with England because we have Wayne Rooney," said Hodgson.

He went on: "We don't have him for the Euros. We might end up missing him for the Euros and regretting the fact but it is a temporary thing. There is a lot of football to be played after the Euros and when you have a player like Rooney, who is excellent in that position, it would seem a bit strange if we just went to one lone forward."

On occasion, Sir Alex Ferguson has frustrated Rooney by playing him in positions other than the one in which he is most effective. To accommodate Cristiano Ronaldo's unwillingness to defend, the 26-year-old was shunted onto the left.

Following the former world player of the year's departure, Rooney was used as the battering ram on his own up front. Yet it has been the emergence of Danny Welbeck this term that has allowed him to find his best form on a consistent basis, offering the opportunities to find the space from which he can cause mayhem.

"We all know he is best in that position," said Hodgson. "The fact he is so good in other positions is another matter. In my conversations with him and all the games I have watched him play he is extremely dangerous when he plays as a second striker."

Young has quickly established himself as a more than adequate stand-in, which in turn offers Welbeck a bit more time to recover from the ankle injury that kept him out of the Norway game.

In addition, there were other decent performances, from Leighton Baines and Joleon Lescott in particular, which raise the potential for Hodgson having some pleasant selection dilemmas when England begin their European Championship quest in a fortnight.

Indeed, though John Terry, Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole remain favourites to face the French, the Chelsea contingent, which also includes Frank Lampard, will report for duty tomorrow not feeling quite so secure. "Good players playing well don't give me a problem. They give me a decision," said Hodgson. "No-one is nailed on in this team."

Source: PA