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Hodgson tips Rooney, Gerrard to contribute

Roy Hodgson believes Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard have ‘unfinished business’ for England ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Despite bringing trophies to Manchester United and Liverpool during their club careers, Rooney and Gerrard have failed to replicate that success on the international stage, to the disappointment of England fans.

Hodgson feels while Gerrard will be 34 at the next major tournament, both men are still capable of positively impacting the national team’s fortunes.

“Wayne (Rooney) is a great player, a player who decides games. Yet he would be the first to admit that he has unfinished business for England at a major championship – Steven Gerrard comes into that category, too,” he told the Daily Mail.

“(Gerrard) will be very important, because of his playing ability, because of his tournament experience, which he can pass on to younger players, and because of his captaincy qualities.”

Hodgson believes Gerrard still has a lot to offer the national side, and can be an asset in terms of both his skill and temperament: “In his best moments, he has world-class ability, which he has shown for the national team on many occasions. With 19 months to go before the World Cup, we have to hope he can keep fit and retain his great athleticism.”

“If so, it’s going to be fantastic to have him with us. He would be 34 but that’s not a great age for a footballer anymore and Liverpool are managing him well.

“He is a captain who cares, one willing to spend time with other players, and he is not part of any clique. He transcends, to some extent, all of that.”

England are second in their World Cup qualifying group, with six more matches to negotiate successfully in order to reach Brazil in 2014.

Hodgson also said he was pleasantly surprised to discover how committed the England players in their bid to succeed on the international stage.

“I could have been tempted, especially after the criticism that followed some major tournaments, to believe that the players didn’t care that much about England and that their thoughts were elsewhere.

“But it was really pleasant to find that nothing could be further from the truth. I know I cause disappointment when I leave anyone out of a friendly as I take the opportunity to look at other players.”

Sun 2 December, 2012
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