Rooney netted 35 times in 44 appearances last season and the squad look delighted to welcome back their most dangerous asset. “Everyone knows what Wayne is all about. He certainly makes us a lot more threatening going forward and is a world-class player”, the words of England captain Steven Gerrard on Rooney’s return.
Reports have suggested that Hodgson is thinking of resting James Milner and bringing in Theo Walcott who had a fantastic game against the Swedes off the bench. This would give England a very attacking look with Ashley Young and Walcott on the wings with Rooney and Danny Welbeck up front. It suggests to me that Hodgson has the Spain game in his sights as he will know that England will be chasing the ball for larger periods and will require Milner to start. The midfielder is a lot more defensively minded than Walcott and will provide Glen Johnson will valuable cover against the world champions.
The last time Rooney participated in a European championship, he notched four goals in 2004 so he will be keen to add to his impressive Euro record. Also with Ukraine worrying if Shevchenko will start they will provide less threat to the England back line which will encourage Hodgson to attack.
The key for England tonight is to keep possession, dictate the pace of the game and remain patient. They will need to wait for the right moment to attack, shoot and not allow Ukraine to counter easily. As Rooney will sit just behind Welbeck, he will be able to involve the wide midfielders in the play and set up attacks from either flank.
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