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?
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
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

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game