London, England ( AFRICASPORTS.NET) – England manager Roy Hodgson has said that it will take “an awful lot” for him to leave captain Wayne Rooney out of his starting XI at Euro 2016.
The form of the likes of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli, amongst others, this season has led to calls for Rooney to be dropped to the bench when the Three Lions travel to France this summer.
That clamour grew in the recent international break when England came from behind to beat Germany 3-2 without Rooney in the side after the skipper missed out through injury.
Hodgson stressed that the Manchester United man will still have to earn his place in the team, but hinted that he would not give in to public demand if he didn’t consider it the best option.
“I think I’ve said now on several occasions that this is a 23-man squad: three goalkeepers and 20 outfield players. It would take a lot before I say to Wayne Rooney after his captaincy over two years, after 19 games and two defeats, that because I am being pushed to make a brave, bold decision and show what a fantastic, forward-thinking and adventurous coach I am, ‘I am leaving you out the team’. It would take an awful lot,” he told reporters.
“But, of course, Wayne Rooney has got to get fit, got to get playing and when Wayne Rooney gets in the squad he has got to get in front of other players again because he would not expect me to just give him a position in the team on sentiment or on his past record or the fact that he’s the captain of the team. He will expect me to give him a position in the team because he shows he is better than the others.
“With Jamie Vardy scoring goals and doing well, with Harry Kane scoring goals and doing well, with (Daniel) Sturridge and (Danny) Welbeck now fit again, with (Raheem) Sterling to come back into the team, the competition is a lot fiercer than it was even two years ago.”
Despite the good form of others challenging for places, Hodgson was keen to stress that Rooney has never given him “any reasons” to leave him out of the side.
“What he is he is the captain of our team and has been for the last two years and has done extremely well. Most teams, if they are any good as teams, they don’t throw their captain out the first time a young player comes on the team and scores a goal, unless the captain for some reason is playing so badly or doing so badly there is a clear reason for doing so,” he added.
“Rooney has never given us any reasons to do that and I expect him to get back to fitness. I expect him to start playing well again and I expect him to be on the plane to France, and then I expect him to accept like all the other players in the squad that he will have to play well enough to get into the team.”
England have been drawn in Euro 2016 Group B alongside Russia, Wales and Slovakia.
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