Wayne Rooney will have another chance to prove himself tonight after England manager Roy Hodgson confirmed his starting role in the World Cup warm-up clash against Ecuador.
Having missed the last three matches of the season through injury, the 28-year-old’s determination to get into top shape was highlighted by the fact he took two fitness coaches on a pre-tournament holiday to Portugal.
Rooney’s dedication earned praise from the England manager but was seemingly not enough to get him match-fit for Friday’s friendly against Peru, where he was little more than a peripheral figure in a comfortable, if unspectacular, 3-0 win.
Hodgson insisted he was pleased with the Manchester United striker’s performance at Wembley but will give him another chance to blow away the cobwebs on Wednesday, when 20,000 spectators are expected at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium to see England take on Ecuador. “Wayne Rooney will start the game,” Hodgson said.
Rooney could be the only player to start both the Peru and Ecuador matches, with Hodgson planning to name a much-changed line-up.
The England boss has confirmed the inclusion of Phil Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as they step up their return from injuries, while Rickie Lambert, fresh from signing for Liverpool, will lead the line. James Milner and Ben Foster are also in line to start after doing the press activity for a match in which Frank Lampard will captain the national team just days after announcing he will leave Chelsea.
“We’re trying to focus hard on what it is possible for us to do, what we can do well and not get too hung up on the outcome,” Hodgson said. “We are taking a simple approach. Who knows if we will have a good World Cup or bad one? But we will make sure we take every measure possible to help us have a good World Cup.”