Hodgson: No guaranteed place for Rooney
Hodgson refuses to commit on striker's automatic starting place
Wayne Rooney's lacklustre display in the friendly 3-0 win over Peru on Friday has not helped to cement his place in the England team.
If anything, it brings into question his automatic status as the lead striker while manager Roy Hodgson contemplates his options for the World Cup in Brazil.
Rooney's former Manchester United teammate Paul Scholes has questioned whether Hodgson would have the gumption to drop Rooney if the striker, who is yet to score at a World Cup, does not produce the goods.
Interestingly, Hodgson failed to name Rooney as one of his definite starters for England's Group D opener against Italy in Manaus on June 15 (Singapore time).
"In the back positions we have a pretty clear idea of what we want," Hodgson said when asked if he knew how his team would line up versus the Azzurri.
"Once you get past Steven Gerrard in midfield, there are five positions to fill.
"I think there are plenty of options there and we could do well with a number of those options."
The England manager's main problem is getting the United hitman to click with the impressive Daniel Sturridge, scorer of a stunning goal, as part of a front-two or as part of a three-pronged attack with another forward player like Raheem Sterling or Danny Welbeck, who was poor against Peru.
Whatever his decision, Hodgson has moved to ease the pressure on Rooney, lashing out at the "obsession" with the striker.
Praising Rooney's drive, commitment and energy despite a below-par performance compared to his replacement Sterling, the England manager said: "I think it's a bit sad that the country is so Wayne Rooney-obsessed.
"We don't share this obsession with Wayne, we also think that people like Welbeck, Sturridge, Sterling, Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana are in there to play well and help us score goals, too.
"I don't think Wayne sets himself up to be anything other than a very important member of the squad who tries his best at all times.
"We work as a team but certainly we don't have the same obsession with Wayne, or Sturridge.
"It's a little bit infuriating to see players who have come on in the last 10 or 15 minutes of a game when it's over and there are loads of spaces and the opposition are on their knees compared to players who are on the pitch when opponents are very fit and determined to keep you at bay, throwing themselves into challenges."
England, in Miami to acclimatise to the humid conditions, will wrap up their preparations with friendlies against Ecuador on Wednesday and Honduras on Saturday. - Wire Services.
As far as I’m concerned, talk about combinations doesn’t interest me. All I want is for Wayne Rooney to play well and Daniel Sturridge to play well and to score goals and to create goals.
— England manager Roy Hodgson