England manager Roy Hodgson has claimed that he would have no hesitation in dropping Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney if he felt it would be beneficial.
Rooney is widely considered to be the talisman of the Three Lions squad, but has endured largely disappointing tournaments at international level since exploding onto the scene as a youngster at Euro 2004.
The Manchester United star scored 17 goals last term, but it was a season that saw the Red Devils finish in their lowest ever Premier League position of seventh - a whopping 22 points behind eventual champions and fierce local rivals Manchester City.
Hodgson has won plaudits for picking a youthful-looking squad for the 2014 World Cup finals, and the likes of Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge will travel to Brazil unburdened by the experience of failure at previous tournaments.
And Hodgson has claimed that he wouldn't shirk the responsibility of dropping Rooney for the good of the team in South America.
The Guardian quotes him as saying: 'I’d like to think that, as someone who has been a manager for a long time, I have the capacity to make the decisions that are necessary.
'And secondly, of course I don’t think Wayne Rooney’s past his best. I’ve selected him in a 23-man squad that I’m very proud of.
'I believe in Wayne Rooney. He’s still a young man. The real opinions that are going to count are from the staff and the players. Hopefully we will get our decisions right and have a good tournament'.
The United star travels to Brazil as one of the more experienced members of the 23-man squad with 89 caps to his name, and captain Steven Gerrard believes that the 2014 World Cup will see a different Rooney to the one who had entered previous tournaments with injuries weighing on his mind.
'I think Wayne’s been Manchester United’s best player at home and in Europe', said the Liverpool midfielder. 'He’s worked hard this week. He decided to do his own week of extra training and he seems in a better frame of mind going into this tournament than he’s had going into previous tournaments, when he’s had injuries on his mind in the past. I’m excited about where Wayne Rooney is at'.
England play Peru in a friendly international on Friday before jetting off to Miami for warm-up games against Ecuador and Honduras on June 7 and 10 respectively.