Wayne Rooney has been injury-free for “several days” and is ready to play for England against Scotland tomorrow, Roy Hodgson said yesterday, with the player himself making a point of turning up for training in front of the cameras 30 minutes before his team-mates.
Rooney was first on the training ground at St George’s Park yesterday and is a contender to start the game at Wembley in spite of having missed all but one friendly, behind-closed-doors, for Manchester United this pre-season. The player is not yet match-fit, Hodgson said, but Rooney will train again today with the rest of the squad having primarily been with the reserves at United at the end of last week.
Hodgson said: “At least now he [Rooney] is injury free, but, of course, he isn’t match fit. Everyone knows that - you can’t be match fit if you don’t play matches and you don’t have a chance to take part in every training session. But he has been physically fit for several days now and has trained very hard at Manchester and he has trained with us and we will continue to monitor him and see how feels after [yesterday’s] session.
“I am sure it was a bit more intensive that the sessions he has been able to do pretty much on his own at Manchester United. If, as I expect, he says ‘I am fine’ and trains well [today] then I will have to make that decision about when he plays on Wednesday. But there is no doubt in my mind when if comes through training and is fit he will take part in Wednesday’s game.”
Hodgson said that the likelihood was that Rooney would play for England throughout this season, and at the World Cup finals next summer, qualification permitting, regardless of his club form. Hodgson said he hoped Rooney, the subject of two bids from Chelsea, would resolve his future soon.
“It would be very nice if that happened, both for him and his club. My hope and desire is that is what will happen. I have been faced many times with a situation where players are not always playing in their team but because they have the qualities, talent and skills we are looking for, they have been selected.
“I am hoping that won't be the case with Wayne but I am not prepared to make any statements to suggest if he is not playing he cannot be considered for England. He will always be considered for England whilst he is physically fit because he is one of our best players.”
If United were to wait until after their fixture against Chelsea on 26 August to sell the player, it would be difficult to see Rooney getting a run of games before the first of the remaining four World Cup qualifiers against Moldova 11 days later.
Ashley Young returned to United yesterday with a toe injury. Theo Walcott was taken out of training following a heavy challenge on him but Hodgson anticipates that he will be fit to play against Scotland. Hodgson will take today’s senior training session today before travelling to Sheffield to take charge of the Under-21s at Bramall Lane. He said that it would not affect his work with the senior team.
“I haven’t diluted anything,” he said. It’s just meant that instead of going to the Wembley [on Sunday], where of course we were well represented, I came up here and worked with the Under-21s instead ... I’m entitled to do a bit more work as I had a lot of time off this summer. It’s about time I put some extra hours in.”