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Rooney chooses to train with England's reserves

ESPN staff
June 17, 2014 « Sturridge will do 'anything' to win | Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Will Rooney remain in England's XI?

Wayne Rooney says he chose to train with the reserves and take part in extra shooting and passing practice in a bid to prove to Roy Hodgson he is worthy of a place in England's starting line-up against Uruguay.

The striker's place in the team is under threat following his display in England's 2-1 defeat to Italy in their opening World Cup game last Saturday and he said on Tuesday he working hard to hit top form.

Rooney wrote on his official Facebook page: "I said from the start I want to do everything I can to make sure I'm ready for these World Cup games and as part of that I was doing extra training a week before the squad joined up. That's exactly what I did yesterday, my own extra training because that's what I wanted to do."

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Daniel Sturridge scored the equaliser against Italy © Getty Images
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The debate about where Rooney should be played continues to rage after he was used out wide in Manaus and he has admitted he is unsure of his place in the team.

But it may be that fitness is a concern of the England management, too, as the reserves - those who did not start against Italy - underwent a much tougher physical training session than at their base in Urca, while the first team had a light half-hour session.

Rooney's place among the players from the starting line-up in Manaus was not filled by anyone else, so he appears to be very much in Hodgson's thinking still.

In an attempt to arrive at the World Cup in peak condition, Rooney, who suffered a groin injury at the end of last season, took two fitness coaches with him on a holiday to Portugal with his family before joining the England squad.

And coach Gary Neville insists that he remains "a very important player" for his country, telling the BBC: "My opinion is that Wayne Rooney, after seeing him every day in training, is a very important player.

"He is our top goal scorer under Roy [Hodgson], he is our main assist man and probably but for a yard he would have been man of the match if he had scored that goal [against Italy].

"We came off the pitch the other night and had our coaching debrief with Roy, Ray [Lewington], Dave [Watson] and myself and there was no other suggestion that Wayne Rooney had played pretty well for us in that game, that he had done everything we asked for.

"You can call it a debate or an obsession about Wayne. I don't think either are wrong because every time I have been part of a tournament I have seen this with a player, whether it be [Paul] Gascoigne, [Michael] Owen, [David] Beckham or Rooney. We love it. The whole country loves creating a drama around one player."

England and United team-mate Danny Welbeck has also defended Rooney, insisting he remains one of the side's most effective players. "Wayne Rooney is a class player," he said. "Wherever he is on the pitch he makes an impact. All our forwards can play in different roles."

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