It’s time for Wayne Rooney to pass the England torch


England manager Roy Hodgson has warned striker Wayne Rooney that his form must improve if he wants to be selected for Euro 2016

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has been the centerpiece of the England attack for what seems like forever. He’s been a great servant to the English national team and deserves a ton of credit for persevering in spite of frequent criticism in that role. However, it’s time for him to pass the torch as the centre forward of the England national team.

Surprisingly, it seems that England manager Roy Hodgson might actually agree. While he’s repeatedly given his veteran players preferential treatment during his time as English manager, he fired warning shots towards Rooney today.

He made no bones about the fact that Rooney’s form must improve if he expects to be selected to the Three Lions squad for Euro 2016. He did backtrack slightly by saying he is hopeful that Rooney will regain his form, but still, the comments said a great deal about a subtle change in Hodgson’s mindset.

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The simple truth is that Wayne Rooney is no longer England’s best striker. There’s a reason that United manager Louis Van Gaal frequently deploys Rooney as his number ten these days. Playing as a number nine isn’t even his best position at this point in his career. It’s foolish to think that a player who can’t hold down the number nine position at his own club should be the first choice striker for his country. We’re talking about England here not San Marino.

Rooney might not even be one of the best two striking options for Hodgson at the moment. Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Leicester City front man Jamie Vardy both have been playing terrific football this season and have outperformed Rooney in every way imaginable.

They’ve scored more goals, provided more assists and give more in terms of defensive work rate. Choosing Rooney over either Kane or Vardy if their form remains anywhere near where it’s been so far this year should be grounds for Hodgson’s immediate dismissal. It would be borderline negligence.

That’s not to say Rooney doesn’t have a place in the England setup though. I actually quite like him as an intriguing substitute option for Hodgson. He could come off the bench as either a number nine or ten which I think makes him a more valuable bench player than some of the other English options. I could easily see him coming onto a game late in Euro 2016 and providing another memorable English goal.

Rooney’s best days as an England forward are well behind him, but that doesn’t mean he should be put out to pasture quite yet. He should pass the torch to a player like Kane or Vardy to be the new English front man but should still pack his bags for Euro 2016.