England manager Roy Hodgson has launched a staunch defence of Wayne Rooney’s performance during his side’s defeat to Italy in their World Cup opener.
The Manchester United star provided the assist for Daniel Sturridge’s equaliser but was otherwise out of sorts stationed out on the left wing and missed a golden chance to earn England a point when he dragged his shot from 12 yards narrowly wide.
Rooney has now gone nine World Cup matches without scoring a goal but Hodgson insists he still has a vital part to play ahead of a must-win encounter against Uruguay on Thursday.
"I think it's very harsh to say he didn't look comfortable on the left," Hodgson told the BBC when it was suggested Rooney struggled on the wing.
"I thought he actually did very well and set up our goal with a fine piece of play. We know we can play Wayne in many different positions and I think he has to be pretty satisfied with his performance.
"It's looking for things to suggest he didn't do well in that position because I think he did."
Hodgson stressed England were unlucky to end the game empty-handed, and praised the efforts of his other attacking talents Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and youngster Raheem Sterling.
He continued: "Raheem Sterling was very, very dangerous throughout the game. The front players in the first half; Sturridge I thought was excellent right the way through.
"Welbeck had some very good moments and Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson did exactly what I expected of them.
"It's a bit tough at the moment to accept we've lost the game because, especially in the second half, there were so few shots on our goal. Joe Hart has had a pretty quiet evening really and yet in the end we find ourselves having lost it.
"We know we played against a good team, we know Italy will be there or thereabouts so to take them so close gives us great confidence that going forward we can do well against Uruguay and Costa Rica and still progress in the tournament.
England now face a Uruguay side who also lost their opening group game - a 3-1 reverse to Costa Rica - but Hodgson has backed his players to take heart from their performance heading into Thursday's clash.
"We are a bit down-hearted and sad the game didn't go our way. We were hoping for a perfect start. I've got great confidence we can do well enough in the next two games to qualify," he concluded.