Rooney ready to be unleashed at Euros after ban
Tethered to seats in the stands so far at the European
Championship, Wayne Rooney is finally ready to burst into life on
With his two-match suspension completed, the spectator will
become the striker again on Tuesday against co-host Ukraine, hoping
to help steer England into the quarterfinals.
The Manchester United player will be unleashed in the Group D
finale in Donetsk after missing the draw against France and victory
And to accommodate Rooney, Roy Hodgson will make a change to the
side that beat Sweden 3-2 on Friday by dropping either Danny
Welbeck or Andy Carroll, who both scored in Kiev.
”Rooney is a special player and it would be very difficult for
me quite frankly to leave him out of the team,” Hodgson said.
”I’m afraid that if you’re a member of a team that has someone
like Wayne Rooney sitting out with suspension, you probably expect
him to get back in the team when the suspension is served.”
And the coach quipped: ”If I did leave him out, all hell might
break loose in the dressing room.”
Even Welbeck would seem to accept being dropped in favor of his
more experienced Manchester United teammate.
”Make no mistake, the whole team is happy that Wazza will be
available to play again,” he said. ”We all want to play but it’s
only going to benefit us to have a player of his proven quality as
part of the plans going forward in this tournament.”
England could be relying on Rooney’s freshness and firepower in
front of goal to compensate for any repeat of the defensive lapses
that nearly handed Sweden the win on Friday in Kiev.
”Hopefully, the addition of a player of Rooney’s class will
take some pressure of the defenders because he can change a game
off his own bat,” Hodgson said.
”We hope that by having Wayne fresh that will be a bonus,” he
added. ”He has to get out there and perform but I have every
confidence he will … he is a world class player. I am always wary
of giving players epithets but I think his ability is a bit
But is Rooney’s return being built up too much in the England
The 26-year-old forward hasn’t scored at a major tournament
since Euro 2004 – when he hit four goals as an 18-year-old – having
failed to find the net at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
In fact, Rooney has only scored three goals for his country
since a miserable tournament in South Africa.
Hodgson, though, is adamant that Rooney can be England’s ”real
ace in the hole” having played less than 40 minutes of football
since United’s last match of the season a month ago – in a Euro
2012 warmup against Belgium.
”He’s been like a very good professional his training
performances have been first class and he has been first class
around the place in terms of encouraging the other players and
backing them up,” Hodgson said.
The danger is if Rooney is too desperate to make an impact. Then
the hotheaded side of his character may re-emerge and he may throw
himself at the game in the steaming temperatures of Donetsk.
After all, Rooney received the two-match ban from UEFA for
petulantly kicking Montenegro defender Miodrag Dzudovic in the
final Euro 2012 qualifier in October.
”He’ll want to make up for time he’s missed and make it up to
all the lads,” said winger Theo Walcott, who scored one and set up
another against Sweden.
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris