Rooney set to replace Welbeck for England clash with Ukraine
Striker 'raring to go' as England seek to avoid same fate as Russia and Poland
ROY HODGSON will almost certainly select Wayne Rooney for England's crucial game against the Ukraine on Tuesday. Rooney has sat out England's first two matches in Group D of Euro 2012 because of a pre-tournament suspension but he's now free to play and the England coach has no fears about starting with him on Tuesday night. "Rooney will be raring to go," said Hodgson. "The quality and desire is there for all to see. He's a quality player. I would suggest he is a world class player."
Asked how Rooney has coped with the frustration of being sidelined for the matches against France and Sweden, Hodgson replied: "He's not been like a caged animal, he's just been like a very, very good professional. His training performances have been first class and he's been first class around the place in terms of encouraging all the players and backing them up."
Nonetheless Hodgson did admit that Rooney, who collected his two-match ban following a reckless kick at Miodrag Dzudovic playing for England against Montenegro last October, is desperate to see some action. "Of course he wants to play football. He's got to get out there and perform, but I have every faith in him that he will."
Following Friday's thrilling 3-2 victory over Sweden, England need just a point against the Ukraine in Donetsk to ensure their qualification to the quarter-finals. Progressing as group winners remains a possibility although that would require Sweden to get a result against France.
To accommodate Rooney in his starting XI, Hodgson may demote Andy Carroll to the bench and partner Rooney with his Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck with another United player, Ashley Young, playing just behind the pair.
But Hodgson also hinted in a Saturday press conference that Danny Welbeck could be the one to step aside. The 21-year-old scored the winning goal against Sweden with a deft flick from Theo Walcott's cross, but the England coach warned the nation about getting carried away with Welbeck. "He's done pretty well to break into a team like United and I am happy with the progress he is making," said Hodgson. "But before we start building him up too much, we should remember he has a lot of work to do and a lot of time ahead. Hopefully, with the quality of players we have, I'll be able to use him in the same way Sir Alex has done, a little bit sparingly, from time to time."
Whatever XI Hodgson starts with against the Ukraine he will surely spend the next 48 hours drilling into the squad the danger of complacency. There is a confidence about England following their comeback against Sweden, but there was a confidence about Russia going into their third and final group A match against Greece last night. They needed just a point to qualify for the last eight but crashed to a 1-0 defeat, a result that saw Russia eliminated. The same fate befell Poland, the tournament co-hosts, who lost 1-0 to the Czech Republic. Those results mean that Greece will probably play Germany in the quarter-final.
Given the current political climate between the two countries expect there to be a few studs up tackles in that encounter.