Hodgson backing for Rooney

  • Last Updated: May 18 2014, 8:24 BST

Roy Hodgson has likened the pressure Wayne Rooney faces to the expectation on Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson to churn out Oscar-winning performances, although the England manager believes the script is written for the striker to shine at the World Cup.

Wayne Rooney: Pressure on at the World Cup
Wayne Rooney: Pressure on at the World Cup

The 28-year-old missed the last three matches of Manchester United's woeful season with a groin injury and has taken two fitness coaches on his pre-tournament holiday to Portugal in a bid to get fully fit.

Rooney is determined to be in top shape for Brazil, having rushed back from a metatarsal injury to feature in the 2006 competition before carrying an ankle injury into the tournament in South Africa.

The forward has failed to score in his eight World Cup appearances to date and was also frustrated at Euro 2012, missing the first two matches through suspension.

Rooney also faced a fitness battle for that event, but Hodgson is confident no such problems will arise this time around.

"I don't think going into this tournament we've got anything to fear in terms of Wayne's a) commitment b) fitness and c) desire," he said.

"In that respect, maybe, if you compare to 2012 when he couldn't play the first two games and was disappointed and frustrated, it is looking better for us.

"I would like to think as well that this squad we've picked is a good one, an exciting one, with some very good players and he'll get some good help around him.

"He won't have to shoulder the total burden of goalscoring and goal-making. There are plenty of players out there who can score a goal, or make a goal.

"If I was Wayne Rooney, I would be thinking 'right, this is looking good, I am feeling good, I have good players around me, this is a great opportunity for me'.

"He knows the expectations, he knows how much everyone who writes or watches or discusses football demands of him, but all I can say is that I am confident he will give us the best he has got. As a football coach, you can't ask anyone to give you more than that.

"You can only hope your attention to prepare him falls on soil which will enable the plant to grow and that when he gets on the field he will feel 'right, I am Wayne Rooney, I feel good, I am going to play, I am going to do all things that built me up to what I am'.

"I am sure it must be the same for Hollywood film stars. When you start off, you make your first film and no-one knows much about you. You might get a few good reviews, but one day you're going to be Al Pacino or be Jack Nicholson, and then suddenly you better make a f***ing good film."

That pressure has mounted on Rooney due to his failure to replicate his wonderful breakthrough display at Euro 2004.

The 18-year-old's performances there belied his tender years, netting four goals and being named in UEFA's team of the tournament.

Team Versus Team
England v Peru
England v Ecuador
England v Honduras
England v Italy
Uruguay v England
Costa Rica v England

It also earned Rooney a move to Manchester United, where his fine performances continued, making his displays at major tournaments with England even more frustrating.

Hodgson is not keen to judge his previous displays in big international competitions, but believes he is well placed to shine in Brazil.

"The only thing I would ever even dare to talk about Wayne with regard to tournament football is 2012," the Three Lions boss said.

"There he tried very hard, wanted it very badly - you could argue wanted it too badly - but was very hampered by the fact he came injured into the competition and missed the first two games.

"This time I am going to see a totally different person - hopefully the guy you are describing that burst onto the scene in 2004, because he is only 28 years of age. He is at the best age of his football career.

"I suppose you could say if he was terrific in 2004, he should be even better now."