Rooney leads new England era

Wayne Rooney has been given the England armband

Wayne Rooney has been given the England armband

First published in National News © by

Roy Hodgson has picked Wayne Rooney as the man to lead his new-look England team.

The 28-year-old Manchester United skipper was confirmed as the new England captain on Thursday as Hodgson named a youthful 22-man squad for the upcoming matches against Norway and Switzerland, with four uncapped players in the group.

Their inexperience is countered by Rooney's 95 caps, which helped him earn the job as Steven Gerrard's successor ahead of the likes of Chelsea's Gary Cahill and Manchester City's Joe Hart.

"Wayne is an obvious choice for his honesty, commitment to the cause, his experience, the fact he has already captained England in the past," Hodgson said.

"Now of course he's got that responsibility at Manchester United as well. All those factors weighed into my thought process and I'm pleased to be able to say I've been able to offer it to him. I had a long conversation with him and he's prepared to accept the pressures the England captaincy brings."

Asked if he expected the move to spur Rooney on to even greater heights, however, Hodgson demurred.

"I try to shy away from that," he said.

"I think it's dangerous to demand that of people. We see so often in the past it takes you on to a new level but with 95 caps and all the goals he's scored, all the things he's done, we've already seen he's prepared to take responsibility.

"We hope he continues to push on, he continues to play well and he shoulders the responsibility of the captaincy as well as the other captains before him."

Rooney described the opportunity as being "beyond my wildest dreams", and said he would consult Gerrard to better understand the job before him.

"I intend to speak with Steven about different aspects of the role," Rooney said on the FA's website.

"We had a great relationship from the moment we played together for our country and right up to our final game in Brazil. I am sure if ever I need to seek his advice he will be there to help."

While Hodgson said Rooney was the obvious choice, the England boss insisted he was not the only one.

"I think that would be unfair to some of the other players like Joe Hart and Gary Cahill who are experienced players in the international team and play at very, very big clubs," Hodgson said.

"They play in the Champions League every week and I think it would be hard to say Wayne was the only choice, but if I'd chosen one of those other two who were being mentioned that would be unfair on Wayne Rooney.

"I think for most people it was his time, it was his moment and it would be a mistake to overlook him."

Rooney's first task will be to help Hodgson integrate the likes of Jack Colback, Calum Chambers, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph into the squad.

Tottenham winger Andros Townsend is also back after missing the World Cup through injury and there is a place for Everton's 20-year-old defender John Stones.

However, it is clearly a squad in a state of flux after the international retirements of Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, with Kyle Walker (pelvis), Ross Barkley (knee), Theo Walcott (knee), Glen Johnson (thigh), Luke Shaw (hamstring), Michael Carrick (ankle), Jon Flanagan (knee), Adam Lallana (knee), Chris Smalling (groin), Kieran Gibbs (hamstring), Jay Rodriguez (knee) and Andy Carroll (ankle) all missing through injury.

And while Hodgson admits injuries played a part in his thinking when naming the possible debutants, he is not worried about their lack of experience

"I think they're good enough to play for England as the manager and the coaches think they're good enough to play for England," he said.

"Now they need to put on the shirt and the boots and go out and show they're good enough."

England squad for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland and the friendly against Norway: Forster (Southampton), Foster (West Brom), Hart (Manchester City); Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Chambers (Arsenal), Jagielka (Everton), Jones (Manchester United), Rose (Tottenham), Stones (Everton); Colback (Newcastle), Delph (Aston Villa), Henderson (Liverpool), Milner (Manchester City), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Sterling (Liverpool), Townsend (Tottenham), Wilshere (Arsenal); Lambert (Liverpool), Rooney (Manchester United), Sturridge (Liverpool), Welbeck (Manchester United).

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