Bullish Hodgson defends Rooney after Peru win

The 28-year-old was withdrawn on 66 minutes to a smattering of boos from the Wembley crowd after another uninspired display, but retains the backing of his manager
By Liam Twomey at Wembley

Roy Hodgson insisted he has no fears over Wayne Rooney's form or fitness after the Manchester United star produced another underwhelming display in England's 3-0 win over Peru at Wembley.

Rooney was unable to exert any real influence on proceedings before being replaced by Raheem Sterling on 66 minutes, while strike partner Daniel Sturridge stole the headlines with a superb strike to break the deadlock.

Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka both found the net for England in the second half to add a layer of gloss to the scoreline, but the performance of Rooney proved the hottest topic on social media.

It was the 28-year-old's first competitive match in a month, raising fresh fears that England's talisman will once again approach a major international tournament in less than peak condition.

But Hodgson was in no mood to indulge pointed questions about Rooney in his post-match press conference. When asked whether the United man might need more game time before the World Cup, he replied: "No, because I don’t have to accept those evaluations. We think we know where he is and how his fitness is progressing.

"We took him and Gerrard off tonight because they’re both important members of our squad. We’re not blessed with senior players and at 3-0 it seemed a great opportunity to give younger ones a go.

"I don’t have any fears in that respect and you saw that Wayne’s attitude and commitment is first class, even in a game of this nature, and he’s got two more weeks to keep that going."

A wary Hodgson was no more willing to single out Sturridge for gushing praise, despite his moment of individual brilliance. "I’m excited about them all [the whole squad]," he insisted. "I don’t want to talk about individuals here and I’ll stick to it: I think I’ve got a good squad of players here with a good many talented and exciting players.

"It was good for Daniel to score that goal because every goal you score for England when you’re young is an important one, and it was the goal that unlocked the game.

"I’m happy with him but I’m no more happy with him than I am with other players."

Leighton Baines caused concern when he was withdrawn on 75 minutes with a calf problem, but Hodgson was at pains to stress his substitution was not the result of anything serious.

"It was a calf [problem] and it was purely a precaution on our part," he continued.

"He could have continued but the game, as far as I was concerned, was basically over, and it was a great opportunity to give John Stones, who’s had a great couple of weeks training with us, 10 minutes of 85,000 at Wembley."