World Cup 2014: Gary Lineker questions Wayne Rooney role at World Cup, saying Roy Hodgson has a 'conundrum'

‘Sturridge is a threat behind the opposition defence’

Miami

Gary Lineker has added his voice to those saying that Roy Hodgson must consider leaving Wayne Rooney out of the England team during this World Cup, with Daniel Sturridge now the lead striker for the tournament.

In a considered video blog for the BBC, the former England striker, and now leading Match of the Day presenter, treads a diplomatic line in discussing Hodgson’s options but he leaves no doubt that he believes the key forward is Sturridge, around whom the team must be built.

Lineker has been extremely critical of Hodgson’s England in the past, describing them as “awful” during the goalless draw with Ukraine in Kiev in qualifying. This time he argues that it is a team that must work on the premise that Sturridge starts as the leading striker who will push defences back and create space for England in front of the opposition’s area.

Lineker said: “But then you’ve got the conundrum – if Sturridge is up top in the system, where do you play Wayne Rooney? Wayne can play anywhere. He can play on the right, he can play on the left, he can even play a forward midfield role.

“But the question then is, ‘Have you better players in those particular positions than Wayne Rooney?’ We’ve got all sorts of options. You could have [Raheem] Sterling playing on one side, the possibility of [Adam] Lallana playing on either side, [Danny] Welbeck, of course, which has been favoured by Roy in his teams and you’d expect him to play on the left-hand side because he covers a lot of ground.

“So it will be interesting to see which way Roy Hodgson goes. Or whether he sets back to that old way we played two years ago against Italy, with two lines of four, Rooney and someone else up top. So all sorts of possibilities. It will be fascinating to see which way he goes.”

 

Paul Scholes last week raised the possibility of Hodgson dropping Rooney, asking whether the England management would have the “balls” to do it. Rooney played his first game since 26 April with 66 minutes against Peru on Friday and thus far Hodgson has said that it is premature to judge his form.

That game was Rooney’s 90th cap for England and he is 11 goals behind Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time goalscoring record of 49. That record has now stood for 40 years and it is remarkable how England strikers Lineker (48) and Michael Owen (40) have fallen fractionally short, having looked like they would comfortably surpass it. The expectation has always been that Rooney will eventually get there.

Nevertheless, the question of Rooney will dominate the build-up, with the player unlikely to start against Ecuador on Wednesday, when Hodgson will opt for a more experimental side. Sturridge’s goal against Peru underlined his ability to pose a threat to opposition teams but it is the space he creates that Lineker also identified as a major factor.

Lineker said: “For me there’s one thing that should be permanent, given fitness and form, and that’s that Sturridge plays up front, in the middle. From time to time in different systems, Roy has used him on one side or the other, and had Rooney up front in the middle. But Sturridge gives us different options. He gives us a threat behind the opposition defence and that’s something Rooney doesn’t do so frequently. He’s very good at coming off, creating space, turning, hitting shots and bringing other people into the game, working hard.

“But... behind the opposition’s defence, that’s Sturridge’s territory. And that makes the opposition nervous, so they edge further back, which creates more space between the defence and midfield for others to exploit. If we can do that, it makes teams think.”

With or without Roo? Lineker’s musings

Option One:

“You could, of course, play some sort of diamond in midfield, like Liverpool did so successfully, and put Wayne Rooney in that natural position, just behind Sturridge, the No 10, if you like.”

Option Two:

“You could play 4-3-3, which has worked well for Roy. It gives a nice balance and a bit of depth in midfield. If we play two lines of four, with two in the middle, we get outnumbered and the strikers get separated from midfield.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

August in southern Italy is known darkly as 'boating season' - the peak period for migrants arriving in Sicily at the end of an often epic journey through Africa. Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition