Striker faces battle to win back starting role


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The Independent Football

Fabio Capello has warned Wayne Rooney that there is no guarantee he will automatically come back into the England team after his ban at Euro 2012, and said the Manchester United striker will not start in friendlies in the build-up to the tournament.

The England manager said in a post-match press briefing on Friday night, just an hour after the 2-2 draw with Montenegro, that he had already decided Rooney would be in the squad – but not in the team – when Spain visit Wembley for their marquee friendly on 12 November.

Rooney's sending off for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovic in the qualifying match in Podgorica means that he will be banned for a minimum of one game, possibly more, at the finals, leaving Capello with eight months and potentially five friendlies to find an alternative.

Uefa will today announce the date on which it will hear Rooney's case, with the expectation that session will be held on 17 November. The German referee Wolfgang Stark has said that he believes Rooney could be treated leniently by Uefa because he left the field quickly, though the three-man panel's decision will be based on Rooney's foul. Uefa's statutory one-game ban will be extended to two games if the challenge is considered to be an "assault" by the player. The Football Association would appeal a two-game ban.

Capello said Rooney could not be sure of a return to the side at the tournament in Poland and Ukraine. The manager said: "I need to find the solution for the first game or two games that Rooney would have played. And then, if we find a solution, he needs to work to return to the first XI. Absolutely. I've got 23 players."

Asked whether he could leave out a player of Rooney's standing – when he is fit and available – Capello said: "In my life as a manager I have put on the bench a lot of good players. I always decided who was for me the best player at that moment."

Capello denied he had made a mistake in selecting Rooney just one day after the player's father was arrested over alleged spot-fixing in football, but added: "Rooney will not play against Spain. There will be new players and a new style and different movement."

Asked whether Rooney would start any friendly before next June, Capello joked: "He will be fresh.

"Sometimes [Rooney] will come on at half-time. We need to prepare the first XI. I have got a lot of forwards at this moment. I need to find a solution. It will be interesting. Those I did not select are playing really well.

"I saw the game that [Jermain] Defoe played and he played really well, ran a lot, pressed a lot. [Daniel] Sturridge is the same. I need to find the solution for the first game or two games that Rooney would have played."