Wayne Rooney Claims He Doesn't Take His Place in the Side for Granted
Wayne Rooney has defended his contribution during England's 2-1 defeat against Italy and reacted angrily to claims that he takes his place in Roy Hodgson's starting XI for granted.
Rooney, who is yet to score at a World Cup finals, has come under fire in recent weeks, having found the net just once in his last seven internationals, but kept his spot for Saturday's clash in Manaus.
Despite providing the assist for Daniel Sturridge's first-half equaliser, Rooney's selection has again come under scrutiny ahead of Thursday's must-win encounter with Uruguay, but the 28-year-old has scoffed at claims he takes his place in the side for granted.
Rooney told the Telegraph: "I’ve never felt that. Why would I feel my place in the team is guaranteed?
"I work hard to try to get into the team. I have never said my place is guaranteed. I don’t expect to play, I work hard, I want to play."
There have been calls for the likes of Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana to feature more prominently in Sao Paulo and Rooney believes the quality of competition can only be a positive thing, even if it costs him his place in the team.
"Of course it is good the manager has so much choice. We have got a lot of good, young players so we will all work hard, all give the manager different options, different choices and whoever he picks then I am sure we will all respect that."
Raheem Sterling impressed in the no.10 spot on Saturday, forcing Rooney into an unfamiliar wide role and the Manchester United striker has defended his contribution despite the Three Lions succumbing to an opening day defeat.
“I think it was pretty clear what the manager wanted me to do. I played on the left in the first half and started the second half on the right. It was a switch from the manager," Rooney said.
When asked if Hodgson got the best out of him he replied: “I don’t know. I enjoyed the game. Obviously, we lost but I was involved in the game, could have scored, created the goal and felt I had an influence, although we lost the game.”
Team-mate Gary Cahill sprung to Rooney's defence, saying: “Wayne created a goal for us and his team-mates aren’t going to criticise him. I didn’t even know he hasn’t scored at a World Cup to be totally honest. He contributed with an assist and, hopefully, he will score at this World Cup.”
Rooney has dismissed claims he's still not fully fit, having missed the end of the domestic campaign with a groin injury and hopes to have done enough to keep his place against Uruguay.
When asked if he thinks Thursday's match will have a do-or-die feel to it, Rooney replied: "I think it will. We know if we lose the game we are more or less out, so we have to be positive and go at it in some ways the way we did against Italy.
“We probably have to win our two group games now. We obviously need the three points against Uruguay and we go into that game confident.
"We went at Italy, I think we lost the two goals at a bad time, really, and we couldn’t quite recover from the second one. But we will certainly give it a good go for the rest of the tournament. We know we have worked hard."
England were encouraging in defeat on Saturday, creating more chances that any other side in the tournament at that point, but let themselves down with poor defensive play.
And Rooney insists the Three Lions will maintain their new-found attacking philosophy for the rest of the competition.
"We are ready for this tournament. We didn’t get the result against Italy, but we are trying to be positive, trying to do it the right way and play the right football.
"We were unlucky in the first game, but, hopefully, we won’t be so unlucky in the next game.
"Of course the Uruguay game is one we can win. We know it is. We know they have got some really good individual players and a good team, likewise we do.
"We will be positive, we will go and try to get three points and, hopefully, we can."
Aiden Cusick - www.FTBpro.com