Hodgson: Below-par Rooney display was not down to fitness problems

The Three Lions boss has defended the striker's performances at the Euros, while dismissing any rumours some senior players were looking to step down from the international set up
England manager Roy Hodgson has denied suggestions that Wayne Rooney was not fit enough to participate in their Euro 2012 quarter-final defeat to Italy, while insisting he hasn't been informed of any players' intentions to retire from the national side.

The former West Brom boss admitted, however, that the side had expected to much from the Manchester United forward when he returned from his two-match suspension.

The 64-year-old veteran manager acknowledged the burden placed on the talismanic striker had been too much and that he didn't have the best of performances against Cesare Prandelli's men.

"I think we put a lot of expectation on him," Hodgson told reporters. "When he missed the first two games we were all believing that what we need to do now [is to] get to the third game and Wayne Rooney will win us the championship. That maybe was too much to ask of him.

"He certainly tried very hard, but he didn't have his best game [against Italy]. I think he would admit that. That might be down to a number of factors, but I don't think that fitness itself was a particular factor.

"His running stats in the training sessions and the games were actually very good," added the England manager.

Hodgson also praised the defensive performances of his side and stated he had no reason to suspect anyone would be looking to retire in the near future, with John Terry and Ashley Cole rumoured to be contemplating calling time on their international careers.

"I'd certainly be very disappointed if they [Terry and Cole] weren't [available]," the manager continued. "They've given me every reason to believe they're very anxious to continue. They were two of the real success stories of the tournament. The whole of the back four and the goalkeeper – they've all done extremely well.

"John Terry, I think has been excellent throughout, as has Ashley, as has Steven [Gerrard]. So personally I've not even thought of asking the question, 'Will you continue?' because they would have to knock me over with a feather if they came to me and said 'I'm not.' Maybe you know something I don't know – so perhaps I should ask."