World Cup - Hodgson facing tough Rooney call for Scotland clash

Roy Hodgson has a big call to make on Wayne Rooney on Thursday as the England manager faces up to the prospect on taking on Scotland next week with a serious striker shortage.

PA Sport
World Cup - Hodgson facing tough Rooney call for Scotland clash
.

View photo

hodgson rooney

Next Wednesday the oldest fixture in international football returns as England face Scotland at Wembley.

The most famous encounter in living memory for most England fans was at Euro 96 when Paul Gascoigne hooked the ball over Colin Hendry's head and volleyed past Andy Goram as the Three Lions ran out 2-0 winners in north London.

Of all the players at Hodgson's disposal, Rooney is the most likely to pull off a match-winning feat such as Gascoigne's.

But with the Manchester United striker's recent injury problems over the last few weeks, he may not be included in Hodgson's squad when it is announced at 2pm on Thursday.

Rooney, who has been the subject of two unsuccessful bids from Chelsea this summer, has not played in pre-season due to first a hamstring injury and then a shoulder problem.

United manager David Moyes on Tuesday night cast doubt over whether 27-year-old would be fit for Rio Ferdinand's testimonial on Friday, and possibly even the Community Shield clash against Wigan on Sunday, so should Hodgson select Rooney he could well link up with the national squad having not kicked a ball in anger so far this summer.

While Hodgson will put more importance on next month's hugely important qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, it is safe to say the England manager could do with his attacking talisman being fit for next week because of a series of injuries that has reduced his attacking options.

Andy Carroll is out until September with a heel injury, Jermain Defoe is a doubt because of a hamstring niggle while Daniel Sturridge only returned to training on Monday after his pre-season was blighted by an ankle problem he suffered against the Republic of Ireland in May.

That means Danny Welbeck is the only regular England striker who is fully fit.

Hodgson could opt for one up front against the Scots, or push Ashley Young, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott forward to play off the main striker's shoulder.

Another option is the inclusion of Southampton striker Rickie Lambert, who scored 15 league goals last season, or recent Manchester United signing Wilfried Zaha.

The good news for England is that captain Steven Gerrard is back after missing three of the last four games while Arsenal's Jack Wilshere is likely to be named in the squad after enjoying an injury-free pre-season with Arsenal.

The return of the duo will offset the disappointment of being without Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, who is expected to miss out with an Achilles injury.

John Ruddy missed Euro 2012 after breaking a finger in the build-up to the tournament and he was ruled out of most of last season with a thigh injury.

The goalkeeper has played the vast majority of Norwich's pre-season campaign, however, and he looks likely to be recalled if he overcomes a slight back problem.

Hodgson also has an England Under-21 squad to pick after he agreed to take charge of the youngsters for Tuesday's match against their Scottish counterparts at Bramall Lane.

The England boss is likely to look at a number of fresh faces following the team's winless performance at the European Championship which cost Stuart Pearce his job.

Steven Caulker, Tom Lees and Nathaniel Clyne are just three of 13 players from that squad who are now over-age, meaning there will be a host of new additions.

Promising Southampton left-back Luke Shaw, who missed the tournament in Israel with a back injury, is likely to be called up.

View Comments