The Three Lions boss rejects says that there is too much hype surrounding where the forward is positioned as he prepares to deploy him on the left flank against Ecuador in Miami
England manager Roy Hodgson says that he is willing to deploy Wayne Rooney in multiple positions but rejects what he sees as “an obsession” with the Manchester United star.
After playing up front with Daniel Sturridge against Peru on Friday, the Three Lions forward is set to start on the left flank in a World Cup warm-up match against Ecuador in Miami.
Much has been made about the finals in Brazil being a chance for Rooney to do himself justice at a major international tournament but Hodgson is reluctant to get sucked into a debate on just how good his player is.
“I decide how I want to use Wayne Rooney,” he told the press. “There is an obsession with Wayne Rooney which I don’t really share.
“I’m not saying if he’s exceptional or not. I have picked him because he is a very good player. If I say ‘yes, he is exceptional’ or ‘no, I don’t think he’s exceptional’, I’m wrong either way. He’s a football player.
“He can play centre forward, behind the centre forward and wide. If he’s done all that with Manchester United, there is no reason why I can’t use him in those positions as well.
“I look at the players at my disposal and decide what they need and what we need. Then I expect them to do it.”
With Rooney expected to be the only player who started on Friday to begin the game against Ecuador, Hodgson explained that a desire to get the forward back up to full fitness was behind the move.
“The thinking behind Wayne starting a second game is that he only played 60 minutes against Peru,” said the manager, who is anticipated to deploy new Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert at centre forward. “He’s recovering his match fitness. It will be to his advantage to play another game.”
James Milner, Hodgson confirmed, will take a less familiar role at right-back in a makeshift defence also due to feature Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw but the boss is confident in the Manchester City man’s adaptability.
Hodgson remarked of Milner: “He’s got the qualities to play there and there may be moments at the World Cup when we would like to use him there.
“He’s in the squad as a midfield player and that’s where we see him mostly but it will be interesting to see how he gets on at right-back.”