• Football

Rooney has baggage but was obvious choice - Hodgson

ESPN staff
August 28, 2014
Wayne Rooney has been hailed as a leader by Steven Gerrard and Gary Neville © Getty Images

England's post-World Cup era will begin with Wayne Rooney as captain and four uncapped players in a new-look squad.

Manager Roy Hodgson named his choices for the upcoming matches against Norway and Switzerland on Thursday and in it were four newcomers: Calum Chambers, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph, as well as Everton's 20-year-old defender John Stones and Newcastle's Jack Colback.

Rooney, despite coming under fire for his performances at the World Cup and being used out wide by Hodgson, succeeds Steven Gerrard and is the most senior player in the squad in terms of caps.

England squad in full

  • Goalkeepers: Forster (Southampton), Foster (West Brom), Hart (Manchester City)
  • Defenders: Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Chambers (Arsenal), Jagielka (Everton), Jones (Manchester United), Rose (Tottenham), Stones (Everton)
  • Midfielders: Colback (Newcastle), Delph (Aston Villa), Henderson (Liverpool), Milner (Manchester City), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Sterling (Liverpool), Townsend (Tottenham), Wilshere (Arsenal)
  • Forwards: Lambert (Liverpool), Rooney (Manchester United), Sturridge (Liverpool), Welbeck (Manchester United)

He also comes with a history of angry incidents for club and country but, on the striker's past, Hodgson, said: "He has that baggage with him and he will have to accept that as a further part of the pressure.

"I gave it a lot of thought but Wayne is an obvious choice. He deserves it, his commitment to the cause, his experience. he has captained England in the past and has that responsibility at Manchester United.

"I've had a long conversation with him and he's prepared to accept the pressures that the England captaincy brings. It's important that the players wants to take on that enormous responsibility.

"It has been said in the past the captaincy will take Rooney onto a new level. With his caps, goals and all the things he has done, we've seen he is willing to take responsibility. All I can hope for is that he continues to play well and he shoulders the responsibility as well as the captains before him. He has an awful lot to live up to, but he knows that"

Following the retirements of Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, the striker is by far the most experienced of the players available to the England manager.

Rooney, 28, has 95 caps and has just been appointed skipper of Manchester United. He has captained England on two previous occasions during a senior international career that started in 2003 and has seen him score 40 goals.

He will consult Gerrard on the role and said: "To be named as the England captain is a dream come true for me personally and of course for my family. It is something I will take massive pride in doing.

"As a kid I always loved the occasion of watching a big England game on the television. Back then I had a burning ambition to play for my country. Now to be appointed captain is beyond my wildest dreams.

"I would like to thank Roy and the coaching staff for having the belief and confidence in me to do the job."

Gerrard recently labelled Rooney "a natural leader." The Liverpool captain added: "Aside from being a top player, one who commands respect within the group, Wayne is passionate about representing his country and won't be fazed by the responsibility."

Gary Cahill and Joe Hart have been the other main candidates and either could end up taking the vice-captaincy, which has also been vacated after Lampard's international retirement on Tuesday.

Ten weeks on from the group-stage exit in Brazil, Hodgson, before Thursday's announcement, sounded optimistic about the future.

"I thought in the final [World Cup] game against Costa Rica, when we gave a few young players a chance to show what they could do, I was quite buoyed by that and I have been buoyed by some of the performances in pre-season and early in the Premier League," Hodgson said.

Stones, Chambers and Rose, the Tottenham left-back who has played 29 times for England Under-21s, slot into a defensive selection weakened by injury doubts over Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Jon Flanagan, Glen Johnson and Kieran Gibbs.

Chambers, 19, has slotted comfortably into the Arsenal defence since his £16 million move from Southampton this summer.

Arsene Wenger told Hodgson to think long and hard about what effect calling up Chambers would have on the teenager, but the England manager is satisfied the Southampton academy graduate fits the bill as a future international.

Ross Barkley, Theo Walcott and Jay Rodriguez are all out with long-term injuries and Liverpool's Adam Lallana is also a doubt due to a knee problem.

The Norway friendly, which is followed five days later by England's first Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland in Basel, is expected to be played before the lowest international crowd at the new Wembley with only 17,000 tickets sold by Thursday last week.

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