Roy Keane fears for Wayne Rooney's mental state
By all accounts, Wayne Rooney does not seem to have had too much trouble amusing himself on holiday in Las Vegas, but when it comes to being cooped up in a hotel on international duty ennui can quickly set in.
And that, according Rooney's former Manchester United team-mate Roy Keane, could be a problem this summer.
"I think Wayne will have a big problem with the boredom, mentally trying to build up for a game," said Keane.
"English and Irish players are the same. I don't think we are good at hanging around hotels and training camps in the middle of nowhere.
"As you get older, you might be married and have kids, you might appreciate the peace and quiet, but Wayne is still young and he's pretty active, mentally.
"It doesn't suit England being stuck in hotels. That was a problem at the last World Cup. I think they need breathing space.
"There is a lot of media intrusion with England, but you have to give players a little bit of freedom.
"Of course, you have to careful. You can't be giving the lads licence to do what they want. Then you are back to Gazza and the dentist chair (pre-Euro 1996, in Hong Kong).
"The last World Cup, they were holed up somewhere (the Austrian Alps) for two or three weeks beforehand and the players were p****d off with that.
"That's where Roy Hodgson has come in and said: 'What do we need to make us a better team, and what can we knock on the head?'
"Cancelling the trip to Spain (originally planned for this week) was good management. Players don't need training camps at this time of year."
As he is suspended from England's opening two matches at Euro 2012, Rooney is not expected to play in the warm-up matches.
This would mean he will have gone more than seven weeks without a game since playing for Manchester United at Sunderland on the closing day of the Premier League.
"Roy Hodgson will have get the balance right with what Wayne does on the training pitch. He has to keep him sharp, but without overdoing it or getting irritated that he's not playing," said Keane.
"There are pluses. He'll be fresh and he'll give England something a bit different when he comes back, but it is not as if Wayne can feel his way into the tournament. It's 'You have to produce today.' As good a player as he is, that is difficult."
Hodgson took his first England training session yesterday and Keane pleaded for him to be given a chance, without holding out much hope of success this summer.
"I would expect them to get out of the group. I just don't expect them to win it, whoever the manager might be," said Keane. "I would have been saying that if (Fabio) Capello (who resigned as manager in February) was still there.
"Every tournament there seems to be something going on with England. In 2006, it was the Wags. They were staying next door and they were getting photographed.
"At the last World Cup, you had David Beckham on the bench. I thought that was ridiculous. Gary (Neville) is actually part of the staff, but Becks was still a player.
"Paul Scholes retired a good few years ago. I think Paul was fed up with the kind of circus that was behind England -- certain players trying to call the shots. I know he used to be p****d off because there was stuff going on, a lot of which had nothing to do with football.
"There are a lot of distractions with England, but it is not just with the English."
It was fascinating to hear Keane explain why he would have picked both John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, especially in the context of a distinction he made between effective team spirit and player friendship.
"Rio is only 33," he said. "People ask if he can play two games in four days. Can Steven Gerrard do that? Liverpool have been letting him off for certain games, because they reckon it is too much for him."
He added: "I've no problem with lads not being pals. Even at club level you can have situations where lads don't get on together.
"United, for the brilliant spirit, it's well known that Teddy (Sheringham) didn't get on with Andy Cole.
"I wasn't big pals with Peter Schmeichel, but, listen, when we trained and when we got out on that pitch we backed each other up and did the business.
"Don't kid yourself that when England get together they will all be laughing and joking. The United lads will probably sit with United lads. You are attracted to the type of people you know.
"It's the same story with a lot of international teams. In the past, Dutch lads wouldn't even speak to each other. You saw the French at the World Cup, going on strike.
"England, like a lot of countries, find it hard to get that unity and spirit together.
"Sometimes they are only together for three days before an international match and there are a lot of rivalries, particularly with (players) being at different clubs.
"The priority for a lot of top players now is not international football, it's the Champions League. I think they will tell you that themselves.
"What Hodgson has got to do, no matter what is going on in and around that hotel, is create that spirit when the game starts, when you need it."
Keane predicts another quarter-final exit for England. He fancies Germany, although there were also enthusiastic mentions for Spain and Holland.
"England have good players, but I expect them to come up short again," he said. (© Independent News Service)