Hodgson eager for 'world class' Rooney

16 June 2012 11:47

England boss Roy Hodgson regards himself as lucky to be able to call on the 'world class' talent of Wayne Rooney.

After completing his two-match suspension by sitting out a thrilling 3-2 win over Sweden, Rooney is now available for the Euro 2012 qualification decider with co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on Tuesday.

"Wayne is a quality player. I would suggest he is world-class," he said. "I am always wary of giving players epithets but he is a bit special. You are lucky, if you are the manager of a national team, to have players of his quality available for selection."

As strikers Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck both found the net against Sweden, some wondered whether Rooney's entrance would be delayed. The 26-year-old has not been involved in a competitive game since May 13, when Manchester United had the Premier League snatched from their grasp by Manchester City.

But Hodgson wasted no time in stating Rooney would be starting. He said: "I have been a bit unlucky not to have him available. Hopefully that will make life a little bit easier going into the next game where we need another result."

The extent of Hodgson's faith in Rooney has been obvious for some time - he finished the pre-tournament friendly with Belgium wearing the captain's armband following Steven Gerrard's departure.

Some fear Rooney will be so wound up by the point he is able to play again that he will not be able to control himself and could end up getting sent off against Ukraine. That gloomy prediction ignores Rooney's record of not picking up even a booking in the Premier League this season until the penultimate game against Swansea.

"He hasn't been like a caged animal," said Hodgson. "He has just been like a very good professional. His training performances have been first-class and he has been first-class around the place in terms of encouraging all the players and backing them up. I know there is a myth but it is one I haven't seen any signs of."

When England got together for the start of their preparations ahead of a friendly in Norway which Rooney played no part in, Hodgson revealed the forward had been carrying a minor injury, which Sir Alex Ferguson had managed to keep out of the public domain.

But Hodgson said: "I am not worried about Wayne's fitness in any way. We hope having him back fresh will be a bit of a bonus. He has to get out there and perform. I have every faith that he will. The expectation is part of being a top player in an important national team."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

England 2 0 0 6 6
Belgium 2 0 0 6 6
Tunisa 0 0 2 -4 0
Panama 0 0 2 -8 0
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