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Monday 18 December 2017

Wayne Rooney named new England captain

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney

Paul Hirst

Roy Hodgson has named Wayne Rooney as the new England captain.

The 28-year-old Manchester United skipper got the nod ahead of the likes of Chelsea's Gary Cahill and Manchester City's Joe Hart to become the successor to Steven Gerrard, who retired from international football after the World Cup.

Rooney, who has worn the England armband on two previous occasions, will lead a new-look England squad featuring four uncapped players into the upcoming matches against Norway and Switzerland.

"Wayne is an obvious choice for his honesty, commitment to the cause, his experience, the fact he has already captained England in the past," Hodgson said.

"Now of course he's got that responsibility at Manchester United as well. All those factors weighed into my thought process and I'm pleased to be able to say I've been able to offer it to him. I had a long conversation with him and he's prepared to accept the pressures the England captaincy brings."

Asked if he expected the move to spur Rooney on to even greater heights, however, Hodgson demurred.

"I try to shy away from that," he said.

"I think it's dangerous to demand that of people. We see so often in the past it takes you on to a new level but with 95 caps and all the goals he's scored, all the things he's done, we've already seen he's prepared to take responsibility.

"We hope he continues to push on, he continues to play well and he shoulders the responsibility of the captaincy as well as the other captains before him."

As Hodgson outlined, Rooney is relishing the task awaiting him.

"To be named as England captain is a dream come true for me personally and of course my family," Rooney told

"It is something that I will take massive pride in doing.

"As a kid I always loved watching a big England game on the television. Back then I had a burning ambition to play for my country. To be appointed captain is beyond my wildest dreams.

"I would obviously like to thank Roy and the coaching staff for having the belief and confidence in me to do the job."

Rooney was backed for the job by predecessor Gerrard, and will consult his fellow Liverpudlian before getting stuck into his new task.

"I intend to speak with Steven about different aspects of the role," Rooney said.

"We had a great relationship from the moment we played together for our country and right up to our final game in Brazil. I am sure if ever I need to seek his advice he will be there to help."

Rooney has had disciplinary problems in the past, but Hodgson said he had not concerned himself with those issues.

"I've got to judge him on the two years I've been with him," Hodgson said. "It's not for me to look back too much into the past and whatever misdemeanours the player may have had.

 "In the two years with me I've had no reason whatsoever to question anything about his character or desire to play for his country or his wholehearted willingness to offer himself in every situation.

 "I'm not concerned about anything else but he has that baggage with him and he will have to accept that as an added part of the pressure. You can't draw a line under the past."

While Hodgson said Rooney was the obvious choice, the England boss was wary of saying the striker was the only possible candidate.

"I think that would be unfair to some of the other players like Joe Hart and Gary Cahill who are experienced players in the international team and play at very, very big clubs," Hodgson said.

"They play in the Champions League every week and I think it would be hard to say Wayne was the only choice, but if I'd chosen one of those other two who were being mentioned that would be unfair on Wayne Rooney.

"I think for most people it was his time, it was his moment and it would be a mistake to overlook him."

Rooney's form came in for criticism ahead of the World Cup with many suggesting he should have been dropped by Hodgson on the basis of his form.

And simply because he is now captain, Hodgson insisted he is still not guaranteed his place in the side.

"That's a tricky one with captains," Hodgson said. "Making a player captain makes it a lot harder to drop him but I don't think he would expect me, if he's not playing well, to keep him in the team just because he's the captain."

Hodgson named four uncapped players in his squad with Jack Colback, Calum Chambers, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph all included in a new-look 22-man party.

Tottenham winger Andros Townsend returned to the squad after missing the World Cup through injury and there was also a place for Everton's 20-year-old defender John Stones.

The England boss has lost exprienced players in Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole to international retirement while Kyle Walker (pelvis), Ross Barkley (knee), Theo Walcott (knee), Glen Johnson (thigh), Luke Shaw (hamstring), Michael Carrick (ankle), Jon Flanagan (knee), Adam Lallana (knee), Chris Smalling (groin), Kieran Gibbs (hamstring), Jay Rodriguez (knee) and Andy Carroll (ankle) were all missing through injury.

And while Hodgson admits injuries played a part in his thinking when naming the possible debutants, he is not worried about their lack of experience

"I don't see any reason for us to be fearful in any way but on the other hand I think it will be exciting and, to some extent, anxious moments for us all to see how these players can step up," he added.

"Unfortunately you don't put things behind you, memories stay with you. We were so bitterly disappointed at the way we we exited the World Cup. We went there with such high hopes, we were so desperate to play well.

"I am very excited about the prospect of this England group but I was that before the World Cup.

"And even more so now perhaps after the World Cup because it's obvious now that these players have got to do the job because they don't have the senior figures to lead them.

"The only player they have now, Glen Johnson has 50 caps.

"We've got Rooney out there on his own now

"We'll just have to be empowered more and they'll have to accept it.

"I think they're good enough to play for England as the manager and the coaches think they're good enough to play for England.

"Now they need to put on the shirt and the boots and go out and show they're good enough."

More to follow

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