Roy Hodgson must beware of Wayne Rooney boredom at Euro 2012, warns Roy Keane
Former United team-mate believes England striker must be handled with care during tournament
By all accounts Wayne Rooney does not seem to have had too much trouble amusing himself on holiday in Las Vegas, but when it comes to being cooped up a hotel on international duty ennui can quickly set in. And that, said Rooney's former Manchester United team-mate Roy Keane, could be a problem this summer.
"I think Wayne will have a big problem with the boredom, mentally trying to build up for a game," said Keane. "English and Irish players are the same, I don't think we are good at hanging around hotels and training camps in the middle of nowhere. As you get older you might be married and have kids, you might appreciate the peace and quiet, but Wayne is still young, he's pretty active, mentally.
"It doesn't suit England being stuck in hotels. That was a problem at the last World Cup. I think they need breathing space. There is a lot of media intrusion with England, but you have to give players a little bit of freedom. Of course you have to careful, you can't be giving the lads licence to do what they want, then you are back to Gazza and the dentist chair [pre-Euro 1996, in Hong Kong].
"The last World Cup they were holed up somewhere [the Austrian Alps] for two or three weeks beforehand and the players were pissed off with that. That's where Roy Hodgson has come in and said: 'What do we need to make us a better team, and what can we knock on the head?' Cancelling the trip to Spain [originally planned for this week] was good management. Players don't need training camps at this time of year."
As he is suspended from England's opening two matches at Euro 2012, Rooney is not expected to play in the warm-ups. This would mean he will go more than five weeks without a game since playing for Manchester United at Sunderland on the closing day of the Premier League.
"Roy Hodgson will have get the balance right with what Wayne does on the training pitch, he has to keep him sharp, but without overdoing it or getting irritated that he's not playing," said Keane.
"There are plusses, he'll be fresh, and he'll give England something a bit different when he comes back, but it is not as if Wayne can feel his way into the tournament, it's, 'You have to produce today.' As good a player as he is, that is difficult."
Hodgson took his first England training session yesterday and Keane pleaded for him to be given a chance, without holding out much hope of success this summer.
"I would expect them to get out of the group, I just don't expect them to win it, whoever the manager might be," said Keane. "I would have been saying that if [Fabio] Capello [who resigned as manager in February] in was still there.
"Every tournament there seems to be something going on with England. In 2006 it was the Wags, they were staying next door and they were getting photographed. At the last World Cup you had David Beckham on the bench. I thought that was ridiculous. Gary [Neville] is actually part of the staff, Becks was still a player.
"Paul Scholes retired a good few years ago. I think Paul was fed up with the kind of circus that was behind England, certain players trying to call the shots. I know he used to be pissed off because there was stuff going on a lot of which had nothing to do with football.
"There are a lot of distractions with England, but it is not just the English. A lot of Dutch lads wouldn't even speak to each other. You saw the French at the World Cup, going on strike. England, like a lot of countries, find it hard to get that unity and spirit together.
"Sometimes they are only together for three days before an international match and there are a lot of rivalries, particularly with [players] being at different clubs.
"I've no problem with lads not being pals. Even at club level you can have situations where lads don't get on together. United, for all the brilliant spirit, Teddy [Sheringham] didn't get on with Coley [Andy Cole]. I wasn't big pals with Peter Schmeichel, but when we trained and when we got out on that pitch we backed each other up. That's what England have to get.
"Don't kid yourself that when England get together they will all be laughing and joking. The United lads will probably sit with United lads. That's human nature. What Roy has got to do, no matter what is going on in and around that hotel, is create that spirit when the game starts, when you need it. There are other lads who have great team spirit and, when they get out on the pitch, they do nothing about it."
Welbeck and Johnson sit out first session
Danny Welbeck and Glen Johnson were the only two players among the 18 members of Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad who have reported for duty to miss the new manager's first training session yesterday.
The Football Association described their omission as a "precaution", while the rest of the squad that has joined up so far trained at the Etihad Stadium. That meant that the news so far on Scott Parker's Achilles injury would appear to be good.
The four-strong Chelsea contingent of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill as well as Wayne Rooney have been given an extra week off.
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