Hodgson happy with Rooney's return

21 June 2012 12:17

England manager Roy Hodgson has brushed off concerns over the form and fitness of Wayne Rooney after the striker's ring-rusty comeback in the victory over Ukraine.

England returned to their Krakow training camp in buoyant mood on Wednesday after Rooney's goal in his first game back since suspension steered Hodgson's side into a Euro 2012 quarter-final meeting with Italy.

Although Rooney's 29th goal for England proved the difference between the two teams, it was a far from vintage display by the Manchester United striker, who had not played a competitive game since May 13.

The 26-year-old squandered a straightforward chance to head England into the lead in the first-half, and struggled to locate the sureness of touch he can usually take for granted when on form.

Hodgson acknowledged Rooney was some way off his best but believes the England striker will be better after ending his enforced exile.

"In training he looks terrific but there's always that little difference between training performances and then having to go out in an important match where there's big pressure from everybody," Hodgson said.

"The important thing he did was perform really well for the team, the goal is fine and, to be fair, you don't need to be Wayne Rooney to score that goal.

"But you do need to be Wayne Rooney to give the type of performance he gave throughout where he and Danny Welbeck both worked so hard to make sure we got the defensive organisation that we wanted."

Hodgson was also unconcerned by an incident in the second half on Tuesday when Rooney surged clear of the Ukrainian defence only to be forced to check back as the cover caught up with him.

Rooney's failure to elude the Ukraine defence was attributed to a miscommunication with Welbeck rather than any problem with the player's fitness, Hodgson said.

"He was trying to play Danny Welbeck in and unfortunately Danny didn't make the right run in that situation, he cut across him rather than pulling away," Hodgson said.

"I think Wayne was actually waiting for him to pull away so he could slip him in, but he decided to make a run across and take the take the defender in the same area.

"But I don't have any doubts about his physical fitness. I don't have any doubts about his mental fitness."

Source: AFP

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
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