No room for critics in Wayne’s world

Rooney happy to be compiling minutes on the pitch ahead of the start of the World Cup

 Wayne Rooney happy with his form and positioning on the pitch. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Wayne Rooney happy with his form and positioning on the pitch. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

 

Wayne Rooney could not care less about the critics who say he should be dropped from the England team.

Rooney’s place in Roy Hodgson’s starting XI has been called into question over the last week due to a lack of fitness and the striker’s poor showing against Peru last Friday.

The Manchester United forward gave the perfect riposte to his detractors by impressing in the 2-2 draw against Ecuador at Sun Life Stadium last night.

Despite being played out of position on the left flank, Rooney put in a dynamic display and caused Ecuador problems with his pace — he also scored to cancel out Enner Valencia’s opener.

Paul Scholes and Gary Lineker appeared to harbour doubts about whether Rooney should be a part of Roy Hodgson’s first XI in Brazil, but the Manchester United star does not care one bit.

“I am not really interested,” Rooney said when asked about claims he should be dropped. A lot of people have their opinions — but I listen to the people around me and in the coaching set-up.

“I don’t listen to people outside of the set-up really so anyone, journalists can say what they want. I have got no interest in listening to them.”

Ever since Rooney burst onto the scene with a series of impressive displays at Euro 2004, he has been bulletproof.

But with Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley all heading to Brazil in form, Rooney no longer commands a guaranteed first-team slot, as the player acknowledges himself.

“I don’t think anyone is guaranteed a start in the team,” the United forward said. “It is down to the manager to pick the team. I think all (the young players) are (pushing Roy for a start).

“It is a good squad the manager is picking his team from so the manager will have some tough decisions I am sure and that is down to him to do.”

It seemed strange seeing Rooney wearing number 10 positioned out on the left flank prior to kick-off at the Sun Life Stadium in the humid Florida heat on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old only took 30 seconds to threaten the Ecuador goal, though, and he set up Luke Shaw soon after, but the left-back could not finish.

Five years ago Rooney spoke of his dislike at playing out wide for United. “I want to play in the position where I feel I’m best. I don’t think playing on the wing I can express myself as much as I like to,” Rooney said then.

But Rooney was adamant following the Ecuador draw that he is happy to play in any position for Hodgson in Brazil.

He said: “I enjoy playing for my country whether it is left wing, right wing, midfield or up front.

“I am always proud to play for England and that won’t change no matter where I am on the pitch. It is down to the manager to pick where he plays me and I am happy to play anywhere.”

Little skill was required for Rooney to tap in from one yard after Maximo Banguera had spilled Rickie Lambert’s shot. But the former Everton man showed tremendous skill throughout his 65-minute run out.

And given that he is still recovering from the groin injury that kept him out of United’s final three matches of the season, Rooney was happy with his performance.

“I feel good. Obviously, I need minutes so I was happy to get them. tried just to get into the box. I was a bit lucky that it came off the post and fell to me so I am pleased with it.

“It is always a great joy to score for England. I was obviously pleased to score to get us back in the game. I was delighted.

“I feel good, I feel ready and I am just looking forward to the tournament.”

One person whose injury comeback has been derailed is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The Arsenal midfielder had to come off in the second half of the stalemate with a knee injury he suffered following a collision with Carlos Gruezo.

Rooney hopes Oxlade-Chamberlain, who will have a scan on the injury today, is not ruled out of the World Cup.

“Obviously we don’t know the extent of it, I am sure the doctors will look at him overnight and we’ll see how it is but hopefully he will be OK,” Rooney added.

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