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England boss Roy Hodgson is set to give the Manchester United striker an opportunity to play in his preferred role on Thursday following criticism of his performance against Italy

By Paul Clennam

Wayne Rooney is in line for a central starting role in England's crucial World Cup Group D clash with Uruguay on Thursday, Goal understands.

The striker was deployed on the left of an attacking front four against Italy as Daniel Sturridge led the line but, despite supplying the assist for England's only goal, he came under fire after a largely below-par performance.

Rooney has since hit out at suggestions from the media that he is undertaking extra practice sessions and training with the second string, insisting he is simply aiming to reach peak fitness ahead of Thursday's clash.
 
The Manchester United striker is yet to score at a World Cup and manager Roy Hodgson is concerned the constant media scrutiny surrounding the 28-year-old will affect his form as England face an uphill battle to reach the last 16.

During Tuesday's closed training session in Urca, Rooney and Sturridge were partnered together throughout while Raheem Sterling - who started centrally against the Azzurri - was paired with wideman Danny Welbeck.

A defeat on Thursday will all but confirm England's early exit from the World Cup, but their task will be made more difficult as Uruguay's star striker Luis Suarez looks likely to return from a knee problem after missing the South Americans' opening loss to Costa Rica.

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