With Wayne Rooney’s position in the England side coming under scrunity, TEAMtalk’s journalists discuss whether England should take him to Euro 2016 and how he could fit into Roy Hodgson’s side.
Despite taking his place in the history books this season by becoming England’s all-time record goalscorer, the Manchester United captain finds his place in the side coming under fresh debate after the exploits of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, while the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll and Rooney’s Manchester United team-mate Marcus Rashford provide further competition.
With Hodgson set to announce his squad for the finals on May 12, we debate whether Rooney will get the chance to add to the 51 goals he has scored for the Three Lions…
Can Rooney still consider himself first choice?
James: For me, no. England showed in the recent game in Germany that they simply don’t need him anymore. Whilst there’s no doubting his ability, the game has changed since he made his name and his style of play simply slows England down. Kane would be first choice for me and if we’re playing on the break and sitting deep, Vardy could be a very potent weapon this summer.
Matt: It may have been a job for Hodgson to fill in the blanks around Rooney over the last few years, but not anymore. He is by no means a first choice for England in attack. Hodgson simply has several other better options in forward areas.
Oli: This is potentially unchartered territory for Rooney, as he certainly isn’t the first choice leading England’s line in the upcoming Euros. For me, Harry Kane is the best option to start up top, with Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge as bench option that arguably lend more to the style Roy Hodgson should be enforcing. I don’t see Rooney as first choice for any position.
Rob: Certainly not as a striker. Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are obviously more dangerous options up front, while there is an argument Daniel Sturridge’s recent performances suggest he is also a more effective option. Personally, the victory over Germany should be Roy Hodgson’s blueprint for the Euros – Kane to start, with Vardy used as an impact substitute.
So, rank England’s top-four strike options in order
Matt: Kane, Sturridge, Vardy, Welbeck. Kane will be the first man on the team sheet and rightfully so because of his all round ability. Sturridge would be a very interesting strike partner for the Tottenham man, if he can stay fit, but his recent injury record suggests he could easily be a non-starter. His apparent unwillingness to play through the pain barrier is also a concern, but if he is fit those two would be my preferred starting pair in France with Vardy and Welbeck on the bench.
Rob: Kane has shown over the last two seasons that he is the perfect frontman to lead the line, given his ability to go beyond defenders as well as link up play with the midfield. Vardy can be a devastating threat off the bench, and would allow England to step up a gear against tiring defenders. Rooney is perhaps just ahead of Sturridge given his international record and experience, although that is a close call. I wouldn’t take Andy Carroll, and while Danny Welbeck is technically a striker, the Arsenal man is first choice for a wide spot.
Oli: Kane has shown us this season that he is the real deal, and he is the best strike option for England. Vardy, as mentioned, is a good option to have off the bench and comes in second. Sturridge and Rooney are fighting for the third spot, though I would give it to Rooney purely because he offers something slightly different and can slow play down well. Sturridge a close fourth.
James: For me, Kane should be first choice. If Sturridge is fit, I’d love to see him start. After that I’d have Vardy as an option from the bench. I’ll probably get slaughtered for this, but I’d actually have Andy Carroll (if fit) as a fourth-choice striker just because he can do what very few other players ca
Could Rooney do a job in another position?
Oli: Although we have seen him drop into midfield for United when needed, and he has generally performed the role well, there is no point forcing him into the line-up just for the sake of it. The central midfield positions for England should be a choice between the likes of Henderson (if fit), Alli, Dier, Milner and maybe even Drinkwater. Perhaps an attacking midfield role or a role just off the number nine could suit Rooney, though there are very specific circumstances where that would be needed and would be the best option.
Rob: He could, as his technical ability is among the best in the country, but I believe shoehorning him into midfield would be to the detriment of the rest of the team. The most impressive part of the performance against Germany was the relentless pressing of the opposition and the energy of the front five, which allowed England to win the ball high up the pitch – with Eric Dier holding everything together. Rooney simply cannot replicate the intense harrying of Kane, Welbeck, Adam Lallana, Dele Alli and Jordan Henderson (who would be replaced by James Milner if injured).
James: Not for me, no. We’ve seen him drop into midfield before and while he can play there to good affect – as proven in the FA Cup semi-final against Everton – the system England play means he couldn’t play in a deep role. As far as I’m concerned, his only chance is if England play some kind of three-pronged attack and he takes one of the wider attacking roles, but even then I’d prefer other options.
Matt: I definitely think he could become a key part of successful England side at the Euros in a midfield role and that’s where Hodgson should use him. The problem with his inclusion would be that Hodgson would definitely have to balance the side with at least one sitting, defensive midfielder and possibly two. With that in mind could he then include Dele Alli in the same line-up? Alli should be a definite starter if he’s fit, and if it came to a choice between Alli or Rooney, then the former would get my vote.
Conclusion – should Rooney go?
Rob: Despite all I have written, if I was in Hodgson’s shoes I would still take Rooney to France. His international record is impressive and his experience will be crucial among such a young squad. He shouldn’t start, but if England need an assured presence if things aren’t going to plan, he could still be important.
Matt: There’s been a lot written about Rooney and how England can cope without him this summer and that may well prove to be the case, but he’s still a must in the squad. A squad without Rooney would be a poorer one. He lead the side in a 100 per cent qualifying campaign and scored seven times and his influence off the field will be as crucial as it will be on it. At 30, this may be his last major tournament and he might well just be saving himself for one final hurrah.
James: I’m struggling to make a case for him. His record speaks for itself, but truth be told, England didn’t miss him recently and there are better players around. It’d be a huge sensation, but Roy needs to show some balls, avoid sentimentality and leave him at home.
Oli: Even though recent performances from England have shown we are more than equipped to cope without the captain, I still think he should go purely because of the experience he provides. He will be a good player to bring of the bench when the time is right, and will be a good senior head off the field to help mentor the young squad.
Would you take Rooney to Euro 2016? Let us know your thoughts and join in with the debate, below…