Roy Hodgson is ready to give Wayne Rooney the perfect pick-me-up - by handing him the England captaincy.
With Steven Gerrard ruled out following shoulder surgery, Hodgson has three potential captains for the May 29 friendly with the Republic of Ireland at Wembley; Rooney, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole. Rooney is in pole position to carry out the role for the third time despite the difficulties he has been experiencing at Manchester United.
"He knows he is right up there," said Hodgson. "He has captained England once for me, at home to San Marino. I know he enjoyed that experience and I am pretty sure there are times when he will captain England again."
At least it will provide some kind of distraction for Rooney, who went to see Sir Alex Ferguson three weeks ago and asked for a transfer. Ferguson has already confirmed the request has been turned down, but urged the 27-year-old to get away in the summer and sort his head out.
That point was reinforced at the weekend by Hodgson's assistant Gary Neville, who claimed Rooney has not been mentally right for weeks.
"There are rumours circulating about whether he wants a move and if Manchester United are prepared to sell him," said Hodgson. "I am not prepared to start making public statements about what I think is best for him. It's a matter for Wayne and Manchester United. I'm sure it will all get sorted between them.
"As far as I am concerned, it's about what he does for England."
Rooney has spoken to Hodgson to assure him the impending birth of his second child will not prevent him from meeting up on May 26, at the start of an eight-day gathering that also includes a game against Brazil in the world famous Maracana Stadium.
"I was concerned but Wayne was at great pains to assure me that he was really looking forward to playing for England and it's something that's at top of his agenda," said Hodgson.
"That's enough for me. I've no reason to doubt him."