Roy Hodgson conceded yesterday that Wayne Rooney was bound to be affected by the uncertainty over his future but added that he will have to do his best to put his preoccupations about joining Chelsea to one side when he joins up with the England squad.
Hodgson named Rooney in his England squad for the friendly against Scotland on Wednesday in spite of the fact that the striker has played just one game all pre-season, at Manchester United’s training ground. Rooney trained with the reserves at Carrington yesterday, apparently at his own request according and he is unlikely to be part of the team for Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial against Sevilla at Old Trafford today.
Asked whether he believed that Rooney would be able to train and play over the next five days with England, Hodgson said that “you cannot divorce a person and the way he feels from the way he plays.” He added: “We sometimes forget that, I think. I think it might be a good time to make that point. We expect players always to play at the level we expect of them irrespective of their mental state, physical state. We want to dismiss all of that – we can’t really.
“I would also say that Wayne Rooney’s discipline and the disciplined performances he has given in the year and a bit I have been working with him have given me no concern ... if he does take some part in the game I would expect him to put any personal problems he may have or any professional concerns he might have behind him and give everything for England.”
Rooney is by no means guaranteed to play against Wigan Athletic in Sunday’s Community Shield game at Wembley. The eight United players in the squad will join up with the rest of Hodgson’s players on Sunday night at St George’s Park. From Chelsea, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Gary Cahill are part of Hodgson’s 25-man squad and the England manager acknowledged that there would be nothing he could do to stop the players discussing Rooney’s situation.
Hodgson said: “Ashley Cole and Wayne are quite close friends. David Moyes must know that as well. If they weren’t speaking in a hotel, they would be speaking on the telephone. I do accept a duty of care. I will try to make it clear to everybody, both the Chelsea players and the Manchester United players and anyone else for that matter – because Manchester United are associated with other players that we might have in our squad – that this is England.
“As far as we’re concerned now, you can speak as much as you like to each other, but during these two or three days, this is England, this is England against Scotland and, even more importantly, the matches beyond Scotland. I don’t expect anybody for one minute to fracture their concentration from what’s important. It’s actually something I hadn’t talked about. I must say that both David Moyes and Jose Mourinho have been fully supportive and fully understand my situation. They’re doing what they can do.”
Hodgson said that he did not expect Rooney to be “anywhere near match-fit” but that the player himself was “keen and anxious” to be involved in the squad. As for Rooney’s future Hodgson said that he hoped it was resolved in time for him to be at optimum level by the time of the first of the autumn’s World Cup qualifiers against Moldova on 6 September.
Hodgson’s assistant with England, Gary Neville, said yesterday that United could not sell Rooney “unless they bring in a major, major signing like Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo”.
As well as calling up Southampton’s Rickie Lambert among his strikers, Hodgson has named Jermain Defoe in spite of his recent hamstring injury and he said the Tottenham striker expected to play against Espanyol tomorrow at White Hart Lane. Similarly, Jack Wilshere is in the squad. He has played just twice for England in the last two years and although featuring in pre-season for Arsenal he is yet to complete 90 minutes.
Hodgson will also take charge of the Under-21s, coaching them and the seniors at St George’s Park and managing them on Tuesday night at Bramall Lane against their Scottish counterparts. After the dismal run of three defeats in the European championships under Stuart Pearce, Hodgson said he would start with a clean slate even with players who have under-performed.
He has picked Wilfried Zaha in his senior squad, in spite of doubts about his application at the championships in Israel in June, and he said that the same went for Jonjo Shelvey, also in the Under-21s squad. Hodgson said: “It would be wrong to hold something against the player when I haven’t actually been there myself and I haven’t worked with the player myself. Same applies with Jonjo Shelvey. I haven’t worked with Shelvey. He was fine with me at Liverpool.
“I am watching him play against Malmo for Swansea and he is playing very well. As far as I am concerned I pick him. If then it turns out when I pick him that he doesn’t have a good attitude and he doesn’t do very well I will make the call."