Chris Waddle believes Roy Hodgson has yet to land upon Wayne Rooney’s best position in the England side ahead of Euro 2016.
The England captain played in a front three against Australia – when he came on as a substitute to score in a 2-1 win – and occupied a deeper role in Thursday’s 1-0 victory over 10-man Portugal.
Rooney’s position in England’s starting XI has come under scrutiny with Hodgson heavily criticised for the formation he employed in the lacklustre win over Portugal at Wembley in which in-form strikers Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane occupied wider positions to accommodate the Manchester United forward in a central role.
Former England international Waddle insists Rooney has to start in their European Championship opener against Russia, but is unsure where the 30-year-old best fits with the other talent in Hodgson’s squad.
“I’d play him,” Waddle, who was speaking at The Three Lions pub as part of Carlsberg’s ‘Pubstitutions’ campaign, told Omnisport.
“I think with his experience, and you know he came back from injury and played in midfield for Man United and fitted in great, then in the FA Cup final he was the best player on the park.
“Then he came on against Australia, and alright Australia’s defending was shocking, but he looked bright and he looked quick, he scored a good goal and you just think that’s the kind of form you want from your captain.
“And you’ve got to think there’s a lot of young and inexperienced players in the squad and he’s one of the elder statesmen now he has to help the other players, I’m sure he does.
“I think he’s in good form at the right time. But where do you play him? There will be a lot of uproar if Dele Alli doesn’t start, Wayne Rooney can’t start at nine because Harry Kane plays. Alli is at 10 so where do you put Rooney? He’ll have to go in midfield, he can play it, but is it his best position? It’s an interesting one for Roy.”
Waddle says only three or four players are certain of a starting role versus Russia and that is far from an ideal situation for Hodgson.
He added: “There are a lot of positions undecided which you don’t really want at a tournament. You want eight or nine players nailed down now and I don’t think you can at the moment.
“Not long ago it was easy to pick the team and write down, but players have come in with form. [Marcus] Rashford has got people thinking, Dele Alli came in from nowhere and he’s got to play.
“I think there’s only three or four that definitely start at the moment.”
Chris Waddle met England fans at The Three Lions pub in Bradford as part of Carlsberg’s ”Pubstitutions” campaign. Carlsberg will be substituting pub names and renaming them ‘The Three Lions’ across England in the build-up to UEFA EURO 2016. Follow @CarlsbergUK to discover how Carlsberg will be substituting the ordinary for the extraordinary for England fans in the build-up to the tournament.
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