- International football
Roy prepared to make Rooney captain
England manager Roy Hodgson insists he has no qualms over Wayne Rooney's ability to fire for the Three Lions in the coming weeks, despite the striker facing growing uncertainty over his future at Manchester United.
Rooney, 27, has been heavily linked with a move away from Old Trafford in the summer after dropping out of favour under Sir Alex Ferguson on occasion this season.
But Hodgson insists he is unfazed by Rooney's domestic struggles and has suggested the forward may be named captain in Steven Gerrard's absence for the upcoming friendlies against Republic of Ireland and Brazil.
"He knows he is right up there," Hodgson said. "He has captained England once for me, at home to San Marino. I know he enjoyed that experience and I am pretty sure there are times when he will captain England again.
"There are rumours circulating about whether he wants a move and if Manchester United are prepared to sell him. I am not prepared to start making public statements about what I think is best for him.
"It's a matter for Wayne and Manchester United. I'm sure it will all get sorted between them. As far as I am concerned, it's about what he does for England."
There were fears Rooney may be unavailable for the fixtures with the impending arrival of his second child, but those concerns have been allayed.
"I was concerned but Wayne was at great pains to assure me that he was really looking forward to playing for England and it's something that's at top of his agenda," Hodgson added. "That's enough for me. I've no reason to doubt him."
Meanwhile, West Ham striker Andy Carroll is set to be recalled into the England line-up when Hodgson names his 22-man squad on Thursday.
Carroll hasn't been involved with the Three Lions since the World Cup qualifier in Poland last October but could be rewarded for his performances in the latter stages of the season.
Hodgson will have one less worry when announcing his team, with Rio Ferdinand announcing his retirement from international football on Wednesday.
The England boss has called for greater support of his selection policy and believes the "bright future" of England's youngsters should relieve him of pressure.
"We don't need to keep shackling ourselves with what we have with these great players in the past," Hodgson said. "We have to take a chance elsewhere.
"It's a time to move forward. It's time for me to get behind the players who will be the ones to take us to Brazil. John did call me and my understanding is that he is in line with Rio and he is actually in retirement.
"I don't want to go down the young players route - if I want Frank Lampard or Michael Dawson to play I don't want to worry about their age. But the worry is that the older players have been in tournaments in their best years and still not pulled it off.
"We have a lot of talented players. Jack Wilshere has played 113 minutes in over a year for me but he has a great future. Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, plus the under-21 team with Jordan Henderson, who has come on. We also have Wilfried Zaha, Raheem Sterling, Nathaniel Chalobah and Thomas Ince so we aren't short."