By Alex Stevens
Roy Hodgson has revealed that skipper Wayne Rooney is a certainty to be in England’s Euro 2016 squad.
The Manchester United talisman is expected to be sidelined for another month but England manager Hodgson has been assured of his fitness for the tournament in France.
Asked on Tuesday afternoon if he can confirm whether Rooney is a dead cert to be in the England Euro 2016 squad, Hodgson told TalkSPORT: “Yes I can, because he’s our captain and our most experienced player. He’s not missed one squad in the eight [Euro 2016] qualifiers. He’s never let us down.
“He deserves to be there. My only fear is he will not have recovered in time but it is only a minor fear as everyone tells me he will be fine.”
Rooney has had a mixed season with United even though his form had improved markedly before he damaged knee ligaments in the team’s defeat at Sunderland more than three weeks ago.
But Hodgson said he will not be picking Rooney based on his form before the squad is announced.
He explained: “Form is something you have to be careful of. If I dismiss someone because they have a two or three week spell where they haven’t scored that would be a major mistake.
“Wayne also has more than one string to his bow. He can play behind the strikers or as an out-and-out striker.”
A source close to the situation has told Football Insider that Rooney is set to step up his rehabilitation this week by increasing his gym work following the removal of the protective brace on his knee.
He is ready to resume light jogging and will gradually increase his workload as he targets a return to full fitness by early April.
The 30-year-old United skipper will miss all of the team’s March fixtures, which include the titanic Europa League double header against Liverpool. The first leg takes place at Anfield on Thursday and the return leg is at Old Trafford a week later.
He is also set to miss the FA Cup quarter-final against West Ham this weekend and the Manchester derby at Etihad Stadium on 20 March, as well as England’s friendlies against Germany and Holland towards the end of the month.
Rooney could return against his former club Everton at Old Trafford on April 3, although the likelihood is that he will make his comeback in the clash against Tottenham the following week.
United are currently sixth in the Premier League table after 29 games played with 47 points, three adrift of fourth-placed rivals City, who occupy the last Champions League qualifying spot and have played one fixture less.
In other Manchester United injury news, Luke Shaw hopes to play again this season.