Hodgson relishing return to the fold of Rooney

Roy Hodgson cannot wait to welcome Wayne Rooney back into the England fold.

Rooney will have played just three times in 12 months for his country since his red card in Montenegro when they meet for next month’s World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

At this point, it is not absolutely certain the Manchester United man will be fit as he continues to recover from the nasty leg gash he sustained against Fulham.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

However, after dropping points against Ukraine, Hodgson needs as many of his top players available as possible.

Rooney is certainly one of those, even if he looked off the pace during Euro 2012.

“The sooner he comes back into our fold the better,” said Hodgson.

“We are short of experienced and quality front players in England.”

Rooney has attracted too many negative headlines for comfort this season.

Criticism of those Euro 2012 performances was followed by suggestions Sir Alex Ferguson was not happy with the condition Rooney was in when he returned from his summer break.

The Manchester United manager promptly axed him from the starting XI against Fulham, although both parties have tried to play down talk of a rift.

Nevertheless, Hodgson needs Rooney to be at his peak, if not for the encounter with San Marino at Wembley on October 12, then the trip to Poland four days later when England will want to avoid dropping any more points.

“We’ll get the best out of him because he’s desperate to play for England,” said Hodgson.

“Wayne is an excellent footballer and with quality players the quality is permanent.

“The general opinion after the Euros was that he didn’t play well.

“I’m not going to stand here arguing and defending and debating that but I’m not certain I totally agree with it.

“I still think I’ve got a very good player in Wayne Rooney. I’ve spoken to him and I know he is very anxious to do well for England.

“He’s had a nasty injury and we’re hoping he gets over it as soon as possible.”

England will launch the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations with matches against Brazil and the Republic of Ireland next year.

Five-times World Cup winners Brazil will visit Wembley on February 6 as part of a two-match arrangement that will see England head to South America for a short tour in June.

Immediately before that, on May 29, the Three Lions will entertain the Republic of Ireland. It will be their first meeting since their abandoned fixture in Dublin 17 years ago.