England manager Roy Hodgson expects strikers Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge to have little problem clicking at the World Cup despite a lack of playing time together.
Liverpool’s Sturridge and Manchester United’s Rooney were the highest-scoring English players in the Premier League last season with a combined 38 goals and are expected to lead the line in Brazil where England face Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.
Injuries to Rooney and Sturridge’s recent rise to prominence mean the duo have had limited opportunities to play together for England, a fact that did not concern Hodgson.
“I don’t think we’ve had the opportunity to see the two of them together as many times as we’d like as quite often one or the other of them has been injured,” Hodgson said yesterday as he prepared for tonight’s World Cup warm-up match against Peru at Wembley
“It’s one of many potential combinations. What I can say is they are two excellent players, two first-class players, and I’ve always been of the belief that when you’ve got first-class players who really don’t have any particular weaknesses, there is no reason why they can’t play together. I sometimes think we complicate things by suggesting that two good players can’t play together because there are some similarities, I don’t really subscribe to that.”
Rooney failed to impress at Euro 2012 and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but Hodgson said the 28-year-old, who battled a groin injury towards the end of United’s disappointing season, had returned from a short break looking fit and fresh.
“He obviously worked very hard there because from the very first minute he’s been running around and looking very fit and lively, as one would expect him to be, so I’ve got to say the past is the past,” Hodgson said. “It’s the present and the future that really interests me and…at the moment I’m very happy with my present and future with Wayne Rooney.”
Hodgson said the spirit among the group was positive and, having begun work on the tactical aspects of England’s game, he was hopeful the momentum would continue over the coming weeks. “It sounds a bit banal to say it, but the bottom line is that it has been a very impressive training session, and if I could bottle what I’m seeing at the moment and release it on the 14th [of June against Italy in Manaus] I’d be a happy man.”
Hodgson’s only concern was the health of Southampton left-back Luke Shaw, who has a cold and did not train yesterday.
The match against Peru at Wembley is England’s last at home before they leave to play friendlies against fellow World Cup qualifiers Ecuador and Honduras in Miami but Hodgson said they had not given tonight’s opponents that much thought.
“It’s a little bit strange this game, but we’ve done so much focusing on so many things we wanted to establish, that this match suddenly seems to have come out of nowhere,” the 66-year-old said of the game against a side ranked 42nd in the world. “Normally in an England team you spend all your time preparing for this opponent, you talk a lot about the opponent, you talk a lot about how you’re going to play against this opponent. I must admit on this occasion our work has been much more focused on 14 June.
“But it’s a game we’re really looking forward to and we’re going to take very seriously. We’re all desperate to leave England having left behind a very good impression with our fans.”