Estonia vs England: Roy Hodgson denies he was about to haul off Wayne Rooney before goal despite No 10 showing up on board

ITV claimed they also saw a card with Rooney's name on handed to the fourth official before his 74th minute strike gave England victory

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The Independent Football

Roy Hodgson has dismissed claims that he was about to haul off England captain Wayne Rooney seconds before he scored the match-winning goal in the lacklustre 1-0 victory over Estonia in Tallinn on Sunday night.

Rooney’s performance summed up that of the whole team as England struggled to find a breakthrough against the 10-men of Estonia, and it looked as though Rickie Lambert was preparing to replace the Manchester United striker in the 73rd minute.

However, Raheem Sterling won a free-kick after coming off the bench himself, and Rooney stepped up to curl the ball into the back of the net to maintain England’s 100 per cent start to the season.

It’s claimed that Rooney’s number 10 appeared on the fourth official’s substitution board moments before the goal, which then saw Lambert return to the bench with a smile on his face.

 

Yet when quizzed by journalists after the match, Hodgson denied that Rooney was the man who would be replaced, but he did concede that the coaching staff had yet to make a decision on who Lambert would replace.

“We wanted to get Rickie on because he’s a goalscorer and we hadn’t been taking our goal chances so when you have someone like Rickie, who you know has a goal in him, we wanted him on the field,” said Hodgson.

“So it was really was a question of which one we take off, as they had both missed their chances. Neither of the strikers [Rooney and Danny Welbeck] could have been too critical of me if I had chosen him.

“We were umming and aahing about which of the two front players to take off and when Danny turned his ankle, there was of course no question.”

However, broadcasters ITV claimed that their touchline reporters had witnessed a card being handed to the fourth official with Rooney’s name on it,  but Hodgson explained that he had not made a decision on who to bring off and that any paperwork with Rooney’s name on was unbeknown to him.

“We were still considering it, as far as I know,” said Hodgson.

“To be fair, as I was in discussion, I don't know about forms going in so no doubt you're going to produce some evidence but certainly it wasn't my intention.”

Had Rooney been substituted, few would’ve blamed Hodgson as he missed a number of chances to add to his international goal tally. The 27-year-old could easily have had a hat-trick, which would have taken him beyond Jimmy Greaves’ career record of 44 goals and into third place on the all-time Three Lions goalscorers list.

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Rooney appeared surprised when the notion of him being substituted was put to him, but he stressed that he can produce a goal at any moment and feels he repaid Hodgson’s faith in keeping him on.

“That's football,” said Rooney. “I think I've shown over the years I'm always capable of scoring goals.

“We knew before the game, having obviously faced teams like this before, that they're tough games.

“It's difficult to break them down, and tonight it was. Thankfully, we got the goal and saw them out. It was a tough game and a good win. It was close but I was just focussing on trying to get it up and over the wall as quick as I could.”

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