ROY HODGSON last night warned Italy: Wayne Rooney will hit top form against you.
The Three Lions face the Italians in the quarterfinals in Kiev on Sunday after Rooney’s goal in the 1-0 win against Ukraine ensured they topped Group D.
It was the first start for the 26 year old who was suspended for the first two games of the tournament in over five weeks and boss Hodgson insists there is plenty more to come from his star striker.
“In training Wayne looks terrific but there’s always that little difference between training performances and then having to go out in an important match,” he said.
“There’s big pressure on him from everybody, not least of all himself because his comeback has been greeted by everybody with great expectation.
“We are all pleased to see him back. The important thing he did was to perform really well for the team.
“The goal is fine and to be fair you don’t need to be Wayne Rooney to score that goal, but you do need to be Wayne Rooney, perhaps alongside Danny Welbeck, to give that type of performance he gave throughout.
“They both worked so hard to make sure we got the defensive organisation we wanted.”
Rooney’s goal – his first at an international tournament for eight years – was a simple nod-in at the far post.
Soon after on Tuesday he looked like he might bag a second, but his lack of match-fitness showed as he failed to sprint away from backtracking defenders.
“I think he was trying to play Danny in,” added Hodgson.
“I think he thinks he had 90 in him and I don’t think he was even happy about being taken off in the 87th minute.”
Rooney’s goalscoring return was just one of the many highs for Hodgson, who also appears to have helped instil a real unity in the England camp.
There appears to be no battle of egos in the squad, which was reportedly a problem at the 2010 World Cup.
Asked how he had succeeded where Fabio Capello failed, Hodgson said: “It’s just making certain that everybody realises if you want to be successful as a team you have to perform to your ability and trust the people around you to perform to theirs.”
“Unfortunately Danny didn’t make the right run.
“I don’t have any doubts about Wayne’s physical fitness. I don’t have any doubts about his mental fitness, it was just a game he needed and it was terrific we could keep him on for so long.
“I would lie if I didn’t say we were monitoring that situation and keeping a close eye on him because we wondered how many minutes he had in him.