Despite providing the assist for Daniel Sturridge’s equaliser against Italy on Saturday night, Wayne Rooney struggled to influence the course of the game. Out in an unfamiliar role on the left, the Manchester United forward was on the periphery of proceedings in Manaus as Raheem Sterling shone in the central role.
In the wake of this performance, the pressure has increased on Roy Hodgson to drop the 28 year old for tonight’s crunch encounter with Uruguay. After opening defeats for both countries, a defeat for either nation will almost certainly end their hopes of progressing into the knockout stages.
At the time of writing, there has been no indication to suggest that Hodgson will succumb to the overwhelming demands from many to “rest” Rooney. Bearing this in mind, here are FIVE reasons why the England manager should stand by the 28 year old and select him for such a crucial match.
Amidst all of the criticism that has been levelled at Rooney in the last week, the strength of his domestic campaign has been somewhat ignored. In a struggling United side, the 28 year old managed to rack up an impressive seventeen goals and ten assists in the Premier League.
In terms of Englishman, only Daniel Sturridge managed more league strikes than Rooney. On the basis of this form alone, the forward deserves a place in Hodgson’s side.
Although he can sometimes be frustrating to watch, no one can doubt that Rooney is capable of producing moments of magic. That famous overhead kick against Manchester City and the volley against West Ham this season spring to mind.
Out of the twenty three at Hodgson’s disposal, the 28 year old is the only player that can perhaps be labelled as a potential “gamechanger”. With the stakes so high, the encounter with Uruguay will likely be a tense affair and one moment of genius maybe all that is needed to claim the spoils.
In a bold move commended by many, Hodgson selected a young and exciting squad for Brazil this summer. Alongside Steven Gerrard, Rooney is one of the senior members of a team that is certainly being picked with the future in mind.
Whilst the likes of Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana have all enjoyed impressive domestic campaigns, they don’t possess a great deal of experience at this level. In such an important match, Hodgson should trust in Rooney rather than taking the risk of starting a relative international novice.
There can be no denying that since his performances as an 18 year old at Euro 2004, Rooney has failed to deliver for his country in any subsequent tournament. But at the same time, the 28 year old is currently England’s FIFTH all-time top scorer and he has the most goals in competitive fixtures for his country.
With 39 goals in 93 appearances, the forward is only behind Sir Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker, Jimmy Greaves and Michael Owen in the illustrious list. So many of England’s players have failed to perform at recent tournaments and it would be wrong for Hodgson to drop Rooney on this account when his record otherwise reads so impressively.
Much feared before the tournament kicked off, Uruguay’s shock opening defeat to Costa Rica revealed their defensive weakness. Whilst England should still be concerned by the potential front trio of Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez, they should fancy their chances against a very vulnerable backline.
Unfortunately for England though, Diego Lugano, the 33 year old released by West Brom, has been ruled out of tonight’s contest.
Worrying injury news for England. Diego Lugano’s out of Thursday’s game.
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) June 18, 2014
Even with Rooney’s struggles on Saturday, the Three Lions’ attack still looked menacing. Tonight’s encounter with the South Americans should provide the 28 year old with the perfect opportunity to break his World Cup duck.