Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hodgson Rooney Call Is a Big One; England Boss Struggling for Strikers

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hodgson Rooney Call Is a Big One; England Boss Struggling for Strikers

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Hirst

ROY Hodgson has a big call to make on Wayne Rooney today as the England manager faces up to the prospect on taking on Scotland next week with a serious striker shortage.

Next Wednesday the oldest fixture in international football returns as England face Scotland at Wembley. The most famous encounter in living memory for most England fans was at Euro 96 when Paul Gascoigne hooked the ball over Colin Hendry's head and volleyed past Andy Goram as the Three Lions ran out 2-0 winners in north London.

Of all the players at Hodgson's disposal, Rooney is the most likely to pull off a match-winning feat such as Gascoigne's. But with the Manchester United striker's recent injury problems over the last few weeks, he may not be included in Hodgson's squad when it is announced today at 2pm.

Rooney, subject of two unsuccessful bids from Chelsea this summer, has not played in pre-season due to first a hamstring injury and then a shoulder problem. Red Devils manager David Moyes cast doubt over whether the 27-year-old would be fit for Rio Ferdinand's testimonial on Friday, and possibly even the Community Shield clash against Wigan on Sunday, so should Hodgson select Rooney he could link up with the national squad having not kicked a ball in anger this summer.

While Hodgson will put more importance on next month's hugely important qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, it is safe to say the England manager could do with his attacking talisman being fit for next week because of a series of injuries that has reduced his attacking options.

Former Newcastle United striker Andy Carroll is out until September with a heel injury and Jermain Defoe is a doubt because of a hamstring niggle, while Daniel Sturridge only returned to training on Monday after his pre-season was blighted by an ankle problem he suffered against the Republic of Ireland in May. That means Danny Welbeck is the only regular England striker who is fully fit.

Hodgson could opt for one up front against the Scots, or push Ashley Young, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott forward to play off the main striker's shoulder. …

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