Roy Hodgson is continuing in his efforts to shoehorn captain Wayne Rooney into his England starting eleven by any means necessary.
The forward completed a comeback for Manchester United in the midweek FA Cup win against West Ham as he came on as a late substitute for the in-form Marcus Rashford in his effort to play a key role in the side’s push for a top four finish.
In his absence, however, England played some of the best football seen by the national side in some time as they came from 2-0 down to beat world champions Germany 3-2 in Munich.
More worryingly for Rooney, the form of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy during the international break – continuing their strong form for their respective club sides – have led to some calling for the 30 year old to be left out altogether this summer.
Wayne Rooney compared to other England strikers pic.twitter.com/c3WY8oLWvr
— United4Life. ᴸᵛᵍᴼᵘᵗ (@FANWWE2003) March 31, 2016
While that is obviously not going to happen – and Hodgson has said as much – there are serious doubts over Rooney’s claim to a starting role in the first eleven.
The majority of England fans would be quite happy for the eleven who started in Munich to be the utilised once again in the first match of this summer’s European Championships.
Now that Hodgson has finally accepted that Kane is the national side’s best striker right now (and rightly so), and with Vardy as a second striker or Dele Alli as a number ten both in far superior form to England’s record goalscorer, it is hard to see a place for the captain in the team.
According to today’s Mirror, however, Hodgson has a solution.
The plan, as per the report, would see Rooney operate on the right side of the front three with Danny Welbeck on the opposite flank and Alli behind Kane in the centre.
The move would see Rooney challenge Vardy and Raheem Sterling for the role, but would leave no room on the 23 man panel for the Arsenal pair of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Although the report states that Hodgson is determined not to pick Rooney purely on reputation, it would be hard to justify such a drastic positional change without using that as a factor.
The situation, actually, is remarkably similar to the circumstances leading up to the World Cup in Brazil two years ago.
At that time, Daniel Sturridge was in the sort of form that Kane is in now, and was therefore virtually undroppable. Hodgson’s plan for Rooney then was to deploy him on the left wing in the first match against Italy; it did not work, and they lost the match.
He was moved to the number ten role for the following game against Uruguay and although he scored, England lost again. Not to suggest that was Rooney’s fault but the balance of the team was definitely upset by Hodgson’s need to find a place for him.
Two years later, Hodgson is set to make the same mistake all over again.