- World Cup
Rooney told to prove himself by Hodgson
Roy Hodgson has challenged Wayne Rooney to finally live up to his reputation on the international stage by lighting up the World Cup with England.
Ever since bursting onto the scene as an 18-year-old with England at Euro 2004, where he scored four goals before breaking his metatarsal in the quarter-final defeat to Portugal, Rooney has largely failed to meet the huge expectations placed on him with his national side.
His first World Cup, in Germany in 2006, ended in disgrace with a red card for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho against Portugal in the last eight once again as he failed to find the back of the net. England then missed out of qualification for Euro 2008, before Rooney again flattered to deceive in South Africa with several poor performances as he struggled for fitness.
A two-match ban lessened Rooney's impact at Euro 2012. Though he did score against co-hosts Ukraine in England's final group game, he could not prevent Hodgson's side suffering a penalty shootout exit at the hands of Italy in the quarter-finals.
But now Hodgson feels it is time that Rooney reproduced his Manchester United form and "exploded" at a major international tournament with the eyes of the world watching.
"Maybe once or twice in the past I think I can say without fear of contradiction that on the world stage he hasn't exploded as he has on our national stage, where we all accept him as an outstanding player," Hodgson said. "We have been together for a couple of years, we are growing slowly and there will be an opportunity for him in Brazil to show he is not just a great star in the Premier League, but a world star.
"I hope with Wayne, and certainly the message to him is: 'This is your chance. Sure, you'll be a bit tired, but so will Luis Suárez and David Luiz and various other players, because they are also playing in the Premier League and playing every game, like you.'
"He is 28, a terrific age, and this is the world stage, the perfect opportunity for him to prove to people around the world what we already know - that he is a very, very gifted footballer, a very all-round footballer capable of playing in many positions and someone who is a leading light in his team, which is one of the best in the world. It would be nice to see him reproducing that form for England and I am confident he will."
Hodgson did concede though that Rooney will not be completely fresh when he heads out to Brazil, given his importance to United this season as David Moyes tries to clinch a top four spot.
"They will be tired, they will be exhausted," Hodgson said. "But going through the players the other day, the fact there are 23 Frenchmen playing regularly in the league, 15 Belgians and 14 Spaniards etc, means we're not going to be quite as alone on that front as we once were.
"These players will be equally tired. Luis Suárez is not going to be any fresher than Wayne Rooney.
"Wayne has had an enforced break through injury. You could argue he's had a winter break, which some players didn't get. And I think with Wayne it's a great opportunity this year to show on a world stage what a magnificent player he is."