Hodgson pleased with Rooney's fitness despite peripheral performance
Playing for the first time since his featuring in Manchester United's victory over Norwich, Wayne Rooney put in a lacklustre performance but his manager was pleased with his contribution in the 3-0 win over Peru on Friday evening. Although Rooney and Daniel Sturridge provided little in the form of combination, Hodgson is still bullish about his prospects in Brazil in two weeks time.
Rooney's return from his groin injury meant that for the first time since Euro 2004, the striker will be entering into a major tournament without carrying an injury. "We think we know where he is in terms of how his fitness is being maintained or progressing,” said the manager, who took off both him and Gerrard to give some opportunities to the youngsters. “I don’t have any fears in that respect [of his fitness]. His attitude and commitment are first-class, even in a game of this nature. He has two more weeks to keep that going."
Hodgson also said that he “was happy with Rooney’s performance" and that he has "no need to consider now which strikers I will play against Italy in Manaus in two weeks’ time." He also added: "I'm very pleased with the options I’ve got in my strike-force and I have two weeks of training and matches to decide the line-up. I won’t decide until the last week or even the last day before the game [in Manaus].”
Although It was a comfortable victory over the South American side, Leighton Baines was withdrawn as a precaution after the full back complained of a twinge in his calf. Phil Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who didn't play here are expected to start against Ecuador in Miami on Wednesday. “The most important thing for us was to come through it unscathed, injury-wise. It was a wonderful send-off to the World Cup by a quite incredible crowd. We had to be patient but we were dominant throughout. It is the perfect end to a perfect two weeks.”
England depart for Miami on Sunday before eventually boarding the flight to Brazil. Hodgson is hopeful of his sides' chances in two weeks and was happy they had a good game against Peru. “It was difficult because Peru defended well, they were very compact,” he said. “We have worked very hard in the week and there wasn’t the match sharpness we would have liked. But it’s about great preparations, putting in a shift tactically and technically, to achieve everything possible. We don’t want to make the numbers up, we are winners. That doesn’t mean we will win the World Cup but we are winners and will do our best.”
“The focus has been on Brazil,” added Hodgson. “It was about what we wanted to do out there, rather than what they would offer. Peru gave me exactly the type of test I wanted. Many games in Brazil, if we do well, will be of this nature. Teams are good these days at getting players behind the ball, making certain it’s hard to break through and find a clear way through, and they can hit you on the counter. So this was fine preparation.”