Roy Hodgson: Wayne Rooney not an automatic starter at Euro 2016

by Ben Topliss

Roy Hodgson has firmly stated that Wayne Rooney will not be an automatic starter for England at the European Championships this summer.

Hodgson announced his 26-man provisional squad for the tournament on Sunday, with Man United trio Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Chris Smalling all included.

But critics have suggested that England would be better off without Rooney in the side. Hodgson hinted that Rooney could be overlooked in favour of better options in France.

“Rooney is the captain and he’s done fantastically for England. He’s been very important during the qualifiers and we are grateful,” Hodgson said.

“But I’ve got three matches before [England’s opening game vs] Russia. Who knows what’s going to happen in those games?

“To my knowledge, he certainly isn’t demanding he will play in the opening game and I am under no pressure to select him in the opening game unless I deem him the right man for the job.”

Hodgson has reportedly spoken to Rooney about him playing on the left wing in a 4-3-3 system following the injury to Danny Welbeck recently.

Rooney has enjoyed a scintillating career up top for United and England but it is hard to justify his inclusion there over one of Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy or Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, who have scored 49 goals between them this term.

The 30-year-old has been playing in midfield recently for United and he has proven that he is capable of doing the job for the team and putting the needs of the group over his own. The debate will rage on but there is no doubt that Rooney can be a valuable asset at Euro 2016.

From Rooney’s perspective, it’s a smart move to try and angle himself for a starting position in midfield. There’s no chance he’s starting up front for England despite the fact he’s the all-time leading goalscorer so midfield is probably his best chance at getting in that England team.

That being said, I don’t think Rooney can get in ahead of Dele Alli so depending on how Hodgson sets up his England team, Rooney might find it hard to get in the starting XI anywhere.

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