World Cup 2014: Roy Hodgson may play Wayne Rooney on the left wing for England, starting tonight against Ecuador
England manager considering radical change to Manchester United striker's role at international level
Roy Hodgson is considering shifting Wayne Rooney out to the left side of England's attack as the England manager explores all his options on the best way to deploy a player who has looked short of his best form.
Rooney trained on the left side of the three attacking midfield players in a 4-2-3-1 formation in a session at the Sun Life stadium in Miami today ahead of the team's second warm-up game, against Ecuador tomorrow. In that system, Ross Barkley occupied the No 10 position with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right side and Rickie Lambert the lone striker.
Hodgson said that Rooney would start the game, only his second outing since 26 April following the victory over Peru at Wembley on Friday. The England manager also confirmed that James Milner would start the match at right-back, admitting that the Manchester City man is his cover in that position for the first-choice Glen Johnson.
It would represent a radical change to Rooney's role at international level. While he has been moved about extensively in his Manchester United career, and asked to play on the left in the days when Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez had to be accommodated in the team; for England he has always played either as a striker or as the playmaker.
Hodgson said that Rooney needed to play matches in order to recover his sharpness and that he was adaptable enough that he did not have to play as a central striker. Asked whether he could play on the left side of midfield, he said Rooney could “absolutely” do that.
Hodgson said: “I think Wayne's a very useful player in the sense you don't have to pin him down and say this is the only position he can play. He can play centre-forward, behind the centre-forward and wide. If he's done all of those things at the very top level for Manchester United, there is no reason why I can't use him in those positions as well. There is a real obsession with Wayne which I don't necessarily share.
”You relate back always to World Cups in the past and episodes in the past. But Wayne is one of my 23 players. I'm very happy to have him here. I don't have to share the obsession that he has to play here or he has to play that. As far as I'm concerned, I look at the players at my disposal and decide what they need and what we need. Then I expect them to do it.“
He added: ”The thinking behind Wayne starting a second game is he only played 60 minutes the other day. He didn't play many games before he joined us. We think that he's recovering his match fitness. We think that starting a game will be to his advantage to play a part, and we'll see how long he plays and that will be based on how we think his fitness is progressing.“
Hodgson confirmed that Rooney would ”not necessarily“ play in the No 10 role. ”Wayne can play in several positions, and he'll play in a position which we think will suit the team and which he is capable of playing.“
Roy Hodgson was put on the defensive about Rooney’s role
Hodgson confirmed that Milner would feature at right-back. ”He's playing right-back … he's got the qualities to play there. There may be moments in the World Cup where we'd like to use him there. This will give him some experience. He's in the squad as a right or left-sided midfield player and that's where we see him mostly, but it'll be interesting to see how he gets on at right-back.“
Frank Lampard will captain the team tomorrow and said that he would make a decision on his future after the World Cup finals, having left Chelsea. He admitted that the MLS in America was an ”option“. He said: ”I'd like to get it sorted out soon. Not in World Cup time, but after that would be ideal. We're here now and we're moving forward so I'm not sure it's possible to do now. I'm big enough to get on with it, it's no problem for me and I'm concentrating fully on the squad.“
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