England manager Roy Hodgson has urged Wayne Rooney to show his critics what he is made of when his World Cup campaign kicks off tonight.

The Three Lions take on Italy in Manaus in their Group D opener in a little over 12 hours, with the Manchester United striker set to feature in the starting XI despite intense criticism of his recent displays.

Rooney has been the subject of some disapproval for his performances in England’s warm-up games ahead of the trip to Brazil, which has led some to question his inclusion in Hodgson’s line-up and even squad.

These calls have been intensified by his displays in major tournaments, with the forward yet to score in a World Cup.

But Hodgson says that Rooney’s inclusion is his choice, and that he wants the forward to silence his critics with impressive showings:

“Wayne’s career has been great. What he’s done is really quite outstanding and it’s a tribute to his quality that people put so much pressure on him to perform.” He is quoted by The Mirror.

“I want to alleviate that pressure, to some extent, because I just want him to be good, to play well. If he does, the goals will come. But as the pundits have asked the questions, it’s for Wayne to show them, really.

I selected Wayne Rooney, I take the responsibility for bringing him into the squad and if I put him in the team I’ll take that responsibility. If I do it, it’s because I believe in him.

“He’s only got to persuade me that he is good enough to be in the team, and when he gets into the team he’s only got to play well and show the others.”

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