Rooney returns but Walcott on bench

19 June 2012 06:49

Wayne Rooney returned to the England starting line-up to face Ukraine - but there was no place for Theo Walcott.

Manager Roy Hodgson had been pondering whether to reward Walcott for his outstanding second-half contribution to Friday's win over Sweden. In the end though, Hodgson decided to play safe and stick with James Milner to fill the wide berth on the right.

It meant Rooney's introduction for Andy Carroll was the only change from the Sweden game, where victory left England just a point away from qualification.

Hodgson has made no attempt to play down Rooney's importance to this England side, likening him to Pele in an interview with ITV.

Whilst a point would be enough to seal a quarter-final berth, unless the Three Lions overcome Ukraine by a bigger scoreline than France manage against Sweden, they will finish the group campaign runners-up to Laurent Blanc's men.

That would condemn them to a quarter-final meeting with world champions Spain, back in Donetsk on Saturday.

If they do finish top, England will play Italy in Kiev on Sunday.

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 16:17