ROY HODGSON insists Wayne Rooney’s bad-boy days are behind him, but the England manager has told the striker he is not bulletproof despite his appointment as captain.
Hodgson made Rooney’s childhood dreams come true yesterday when he announced the striker would succeed Steven Gerrard as England skipper.
Given that he is the only player in Hodgson’s 22-man squad with over 50 caps, it was no surprise the England manager selected Rooney to lead the side.
But eight years ago, few would have thought Rooney was captaincy material. Back then, the Liverpudlian effectively cost England a place in the 2006 World Cup semifinals by being sent off for a stamp on Portugal’s Ricardo Carvalho.
In 2010 Rooney looked straight down a camera lens and aimed a volley of abuse at the England fans who booed the team off following their dire 0-0 draw against Algeria.
And Rooney’s temper was brought into question three years later when he was handed a two-match ban for a rash and totally needless foul on Montenegro’s Miodrag Dzudovic.
Hodgson is sure those kind of episodes are a thing of the past now though, so he had no hesitation handing Rooney the armband.
“Wayne certainly isn’t a problem player,” Hodgson said.
“He’s not been sent off in any games that we’ve had and not had many bookings.
“In these two years we’ve worked together I’ve not been worried that he’s going to get sent off.
“I’ve not been concerned about that. I’d like to think it’s in the past.”
As ever, Hodgson had done his homework. Rooney has not been dismissed, neither for club nor country, since that miserable night in Podgorica three years ago.
Hodgson did not, therefore, bring the subject of discipline up when he met Rooney to offer him the captaincy at the offices of his agent Paul Stretford in Cheshire.
And he will never bring the topic up during the 28-yearold’s time as captain.
“I have too much respect for his own thought processes,” Hodgson said.
Rooney scored his first World Cup goal against Uruguay this summer, but he could not help England avoid their first group stage exit since 1958.
The striker’s place in the team came under scrutiny, especially after Paul Scholes suggested Rooney may be past his best. Scholes has since claimed he was misquoted.
Hodgson stood by Rooney, but the striker could be hooked by his boss if he thinks it is required.
Hodgson said: “I don’t think he would expect me, if he wasn’t playing well enough, that he wasn’t able to do the job we wanted him to do, to keep him in the team just because he is captain.”
Rooney will be nearing 30 when Euro 2016 comes around and he wants to finally win some silverware with the national side after 11 years of disappointment.
“I have said previously that I will not look on my England career as a success unless we win something and that is my attitude to playing football,” Rooney told his website.
England squad for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland and the friendly against Norway:
Goalkeepers: Forster (Southampton), Foster (West Brom), Hart (Manchester City)
Defenders: Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Chambers (Arsenal), Jagielka (Everton), Jones (Manchester United), Rose (Tottenham), Stones (Everton)
Midfielders: Colback (Newcastle), Delph (Aston Villa), Henderson (Liverpool), Milner (Manchester City), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Sterling (Liverpool), Townsend (Tottenham), Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards: Lambert (Liverpool), Rooney (Manchester United), Sturridge (Liverpool), Welbeck (Manchester United)