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Rooney: My England place is under threat

ESPN staff
June 16, 2014 « Kaymer rewrites the history books at Pinehurst | WILL TEST Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Will Rooney keep his place?

Wayne Rooney admits he is fighting for his starting place in England's team for Thursday's crucial World Cup clash with Uruguay.

Rooney, who was played out of position on the left in Saturday's opening 2-1 defeat to Italy, said no player is ever guaranteed a spot in Roy Hodgson's team but concedes Raheem Sterling's incredible rise to prominence means he needs to prove his worth now more than ever.

"Why would I feel my place in the team is guaranteed?" Rooney said. "I work hard to try and get into that team. I have never said my place is guaranteed. I don't expect to play, but I work hard. I want to play.

"We have got a lot of good young players so we will all work hard. We all give the manager different options, different choices, and whoever he picks then I am sure we will all respect that."

Rooney's former Manchester United team-mate Paul Scholes has called for him to be played through the middle on Thursday, but his prospects of starting are uncertain, with Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge, who scored England's goal, also impressing against Italy.

Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana were lively additions from the bench, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could come into the reckoning against Uruguay having resumed full training following the knee injury he suffered in England's warm-up game against Ecuador.

Hodgson will likely stick with Sterling on Thursday, though may not opt to deploy him in the No.10 role as he did in Manaus.

That means Rooney, who has not scored in nine World Cup matches, could be facing the biggest battle of his 11-year international career.

He has admitted his reservations about playing out wide for United in the past and echoed those sentiments following his lacklustre display in England's opener.

"I don't know if it brings the best out in me, but I enjoyed the game," Rooney said. "I was involved in the game, could have scored, created the goal and felt I had an influence."

Looking ahead to England's meeting with Uruguay, Rooney added: "It will be a do-or-die game. We know if we lose the game we are more or less out, so we have to be positive. We have to win both games to go through now."

Hodgson made it clear Rooney is in his thoughts for the Uruguay game, claiming he wants the striker to get himself into the box more.

Rooney only touched the ball once in Italy's penalty area when he shot into the side netting from 12 yards - a missed opportunity to equalise that saw Hodgson show his disappointment on the bench.

"We want him in the area more,'' Hodgson said. "I thought he set up the goal really well with that clever pass. Then after Leighton Baines put him in with that pass I was convinced he was going to score when he got himself room in the box.

"But, yes, we want Wayne in the box and there's no question we will get him in the box."

Rooney was not the only player guilty of profligacy on Saturday with England failing to beat stand-in goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu on several occasions when they had Italy on the ropes in the opening 15 minutes.

However, Hodgson remains upbeat on England's chances of qualifying and believes his side have enough going forward to break down Uruguay and Costa Rica.

"We won't panic," Hodgson said. "It was as positive performance as I have seen from us. And it gives me great hope going forward, not just the next two games, but further than that because we have players here who will develop into very strong players.''

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