England manager Roy Hodgson defends Wayne Rooney after poor display against Peru
LONDON // Roy Hodgson, the England manager, said that he was satisfied with Wayne Rooney despite the Manchester United striker producing a subdued showing in his country’s 3-0 friendly win over Peru.
Goals from Daniel Sturridge, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka enabled England to sign off with victory in their final pre-World Cup game on home soil on Friday, but Rooney played a peripheral role.
Rooney, 28, who missed United’s last three games of the season with a groin injury, threatened only once, with a first-half header, before being replaced by Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling in the 66th minute.
However, Hodgson said that he was encouraged by the display after a month of inactivity.
“I was happy with Wayne Rooney’s performance,” Hodgson said. “We think we know where he is. We think we know how his fitness is being maintained or progressing. We obviously took him off tonight. Him and (Steven) Gerrard are important members of our squad.
“We’re not blessed with loads of senior players and at 3-0 it seemed to be a great opportunity to give younger ones a go.
“I don’t have any fears in that respect [about Rooney’s fitness]. His attitude and commitment are first-class, even in a game of this nature – and he’s got two more weeks to keep that going.”
Hodgson saw all of his players come through Friday’s game unscathed and described it as “the perfect end to a perfect two weeks”.
Having previously completed a warm-weather training camp in Portugal last week, England will fly to Miami on Sunday, where they face Ecuador and Honduras in two further warm-up games.
Hodgson said that the decision to withdraw Leighton Baines late in the game against Peru was “pure caution” after the Everton left-back felt discomfort in his calf.
He also revealed that Phil Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are in line to start Tuesday’s game against Ecuador in Miami after proving their fitness in training this week.
United defender Jones damaged his shoulder towards the end of the season, while Arsenal midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain has been working to overcome a groin problem.
“They are going to play on Tuesday,” said Hodgson, who gave Everton defender John Stones his international debut against Peru.
“They could have both played tonight, but I determined that they would start the game on Tuesday and we had a number of substitutes on the bench.
“We decided it would be better for them to do an extra day’s training. We’ve got Saturday free and Sunday’s a travelling day, so rather than have them with three days with no training, we chose to train them.”
Peru coach Pablo Bengoechea was appointed in March after the South American side failed to qualify for the World Cup and is bidding to build a team capable of competing at next year’s Copa America in Chile.
“It’s the start of a new cycle,” he said.
“But although it was a good start, and we can start learning about the players and the squad, it’s not preparation in terms of the Copa America because this is a European side we were playing against.”
On England’s chances of success at the World Cup, he said: “This was a warm-up game. I guess the England manager is reasonably satisfied with their performance, but the really tough stuff is still to come.”
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Published: May 31, 2014 04:00 AM