ROY HODGSON insists that Wayne Rooney is still a key player for England despite the striker's woes at Old Trafford.
Rooney is expected to start against Ireland at Wembley tonight but his club future remains up in the air after a difficult end to the season at Manchester United, but Hodgson remains committed to the player and convinced of his ability.
"My faith in Wayne Rooney has been very strong from the very beginning and has never wavered," Hodgson said at yesterday's pre-match press conference outside London.
"I can't comment on club football and a player's status with his club, I can only comment on Wayne and how he is when he joins up with me, having played successful or unsuccessfully for his club, his desire and his ambition to play for England and I find that as strong, if not stronger, than the day we met.
"I have nothing but the greatest faith in Wayne and I know that in these next two games he will be desperate to go out and show what a good player he is.
"But I must also remind people of the basic cliché, that good players can have bad games, bad players can have good games. It's not an exact science and wanting it doesn't mean you are going to give it.
"He has to produce good form as well, no one can be guaranteed a place for the future, they have to produce the form on the football field but we are talking about a player of undoubted ability and I am expecting him to continue to show that ability," added Hodgson, who admits that worries at club level for his players also cause him stress.
"It's something I have to live with, there are a lot of clubs that don't use English players and I have to accept that the English players we have don't always play," the England boss explained.
"If I pick a team of players who are in their team every week we are going to limit our options: Cleverly, Welbeck, Walcott, you can go though a long list of players who we think are good enough to help an English team but they may not be playing every week for their club side and I can't decide what players clubs bring in and what managers do with those players, but I can give them a chance to show their ability."