Rooney set for left-wing role

7:21am Wednesday 4th June 2014

© Press Association 2017

Wayne Rooney is expected to start on the left wing in England's warm-up game against Ecuador in Miami on Wednesday.

Rooney put in a sub-par performance in England's 3-0 win over Peru at Wembley on Friday, but he will be given another chance to impress in the Three Lions' penultimate World Cup warm-up game.

After England's training session in Miami on Tuesday, the indications were that the Manchester United forward would start out wide, rather than up front or just behind a striker.

It is a position where Rooney has been uncomfortable in the past.

In 2009, after a run of games playing out wide for United, the now 28-year-old said: "I don't think playing on the wing I can express myself as much as I like to."

But England manager Roy Hodgson, who will name a much-changed side for the Ecuador game, has no qualms about deploying Rooney out wide.

"He can do that (role), absolutely," said Hodgson, who also confirmed James Milner will start at right-back.

"I think Wayne's a very useful player in the sense you don't have to pin him down and say this is the only position he can play.

"He can play centre-forward, behind the centre-forward and wide. If he's done all of those things at the very top level for Manchester United, there is no reason why I can't use him in those positions as well."

Hodgson was all smiles as he mingled with the media and other guests at a drinks reception in Miami on Monday night, but the mood of the England coach darkened slightly when he was asked about Rooney's abilities on the eve of the Ecuador match.

The England manager claimed, for the second time in five days, that there is an obsession with Rooney, who missed the last three games of the Premier League season with a groin problem.

Hodgson declined the opportunity to agree with one reporter's view of Rooney as an "exceptional" player.

"You're saying he is an exceptional player. I'm not saying if he's exceptional or not. I have picked him because he is a very good player," Hodgson said.

"He didn't play many games before he joined us. We think that starting a game will be to his advantage."

Rooney is expected to be the only player retained from Friday's win over Peru, which looked better on paper than it was in reality.

Ben Foster will start in goal behind an expected back four of Milner, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw.

Frank Lampard will captain the team while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley and Rooney are likely to start behind lone striker Rickie Lambert.

Raheem Sterling, who impressed as a substitute against Peru, may have to settle for a place on the bench this time too.

With Kyle Walker out of the World Cup through injury, and Jones having not played for a month because of a shoulder problem, Hodgson is short of cover at right-back.

Hodgson classes Milner as a midfielder, but the England boss has no problem selecting the Manchester City player in defence.

"He's got the qualities to play there," Hodgson said. "There may be moments in the World Cup where we'd like to use him there. This will give him some experience."


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