Thursday 22 February 2018

England battle spurs Rooney to make return for showdown

ooney's place in England's squad is assured as long as he is fit, but a starting spot is a long way from being guaranteed. Photo: PA
ooney's place in England's squad is assured as long as he is fit, but a starting spot is a long way from being guaranteed. Photo: PA

James Ducker

Wayne Rooney is expected to undergo another scan this week, with the Manchester United and England captain having an outside chance of making his comeback from injury against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

But while the prospect of Rooney nearing a return is a boost for Roy Hodgson, the striker faces a four-way fight over the remaining weeks of the season to claim a starting place in England's front three for their Euro 2016 opener against Russia.

Rooney's place in England's squad is assured as long as he is fit, but a starting spot is a long way from being guaranteed.

Hodgson is working towards starting the tournament with a front three and, barring injuries or a dramatic loss of form, Harry Kane and Danny Welbeck currently hold two of those positions.

That leaves Rooney fighting with Jamie Vardy, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling for the final place on one of the flanks as the season draws to a close.

Rooney's prospects of winning that battle could be enhanced if he has more time in which to prove his fitness and form and United manager Louis van Gaal has not yet given up hope of the player making a surprise comeback at White Hart Lane.

Rooney is unlikely to take any chances with his fitness but his recovery from knee ligament damage is progressing better than expected after an earlier setback and he is due to undergo further medical assessment in the next few days.

It still seems more likely at this stage that Rooney will play for the U-21s at home to Middlesbrough next Monday and then return to the first team against West Ham in their FA Cup quarter-final replay next Wednesday.

Telegraph.co.uk

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