Rooney will return, says Hodgson after England win
England manager Roy Hodgson has vowed to pick Wayne Rooney for his side’s crucial final group game against Ukraine next week despite a pulsating 3-2 victory over Sweden on Friday.
A night of high drama at the Olympic Stadium saw England’s youthful side haul themselves back from the brink of a potentially catastrophic defeat to leave them only a point away from the quarter-finals.
The win came courtesy of three goals scored by the new generation of England players, with Andy Carroll, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck all netting.
However while Hodgson admitted the form of Carroll and Welbeck had given him a welcome selection dilemma, he acknowledged there was no chance that Rooney would be left out against Ukraine now his two-match suspension has ended.
“I welcome those kinds of selection problems — I was really pleased with the performance of the two front players and Theo’s contribution was enormous today,” Hodgson said.
“To come on as sub and score such a good goal and then set up a winner means he got to be very happy with his night’s work.
“But Wayne Rooney is a very special player and it would be very difficult for me to leave him out of the team.
“I’m afraid that if you’re a member of a team that has Wayne Rooney sitting out with suspension you probably expect him to get back in the team when the suspension is served.” Rooney will take up a deep-lying striker role working off either Carroll or Welbeck for what is certain to be a demanding assignment against the Ukrainians at Donetsk’s Donbass Arena, with Ashley Young moving left.
“I think with Wayne Rooney coming back into the team he will play in his position which is as a striker who drops deep and receives the ball.
“Ashley Young, who did the job for us in Wayne’s absence, I’m thinking of more as a wide player, which is his natural position,” Hodgson said.
Hodgson declined to elaborate on how he plans to approach the game, which could see England afford to play for the draw in the knowledge they will advance.
“I’m really happy to be going into it knowing that a positive result — a draw or a win — will see us through the group,” Hodgson said.
“If we do that I shall be more than satisified because we’ve had a very difficult game. There are no easy pickings for us in the group.
“Our goal is that we don’t slip from the standard that we’ve shown in the matches so far and hopefully the addition of a player of Rooney’s class will take a bit of pressure off us.”