Hodgson ready to unleash Rooney with promise of something 'special'

England striker 'knows how to deal with the pressure' and 'lack of match fitness is not a worry'

Krakow

Roy Hodgson declared yesterday that the notion of Wayne Rooney being "a caged animal" at the European Championship was "a myth" and rejected the idea that too much expectation has been built around his entry to England's campaign.

Hodgson, who will start with the 26-year-old against Ukraine on Tuesday – probably at Andy Carroll's expense – said that Rooney had no vestiges of the toe injury he carried into the England squad and said that his lack of match fitness – he has played 36 minutes in the last month – was no worry. The England manager said the expectations on Rooney were "part of being a top, top player in an important national team. If it's Sweden then it's [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic. If it's the Ukraine I'm sure it's about [Andrey] Shevchenko, for France it's [Franck] Ribery and [Samir] Nasri. If it's England it's about Rooney and [Steven] Gerrard. As a coach, you get on with it and you trust that these players have been putting up with this kind of pressure in their lives for a long, long time and know how to deal with it."

Rooney had been as good in training as Hodgson had imagined he would be, the manager said. "I am always wary of giving players epithets but I think his ability is a bit special. You are always lucky as a manager of an international team having players of his quality available to select and I have been a little unlucky I think not to have him available."

It was Danny Welbeck, likely to play in front of Rooney on Tuesday, whom Hodgson urged the nation not to build up too much, after his pirouette in Sweden 's box brought Friday evening's winner.

"He is getting games for the senior England team when he could still be playing for the Under 21s," Hodgson said. "So before we start building him up to knock him down again we should remember he has a lot of work to do and a lot of time ahead. I will use him in the same way Sir Alex has done and that is sparingly on occasions." Walcott hopes that he, rather than the more defensive James Milner, starts on Tuesday. "We can't go into games looking for draws, especially against the hosts," he said.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones