Euro 2012 - Rooney rejects rest ahead of Euro 2012
England boss Roy Hodgson has revealed Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney turned down the chance of additional time off ahead of his country's Euro 2012 campaign.
Hodgson views Rooney as an essential part of his plans in Poland and Ukraine, despite the 26-year-old being suspended for the first two group games. The new England boss told Rooney not to report for next Saturday's friendly with Norway and Rooney was offered a further break to ensure he was fully recovered but he refused and will report for duty on Tuesday, May 29.
"Wayne has been playing with a minor injury for the last three or four games which needed a couple of weeks to clear up," said Hodgson. "He won't be involved in the Norway game and I don't know whether I will select him for Belgium at this stage. I offered him a couple more days' rest but he was adamant he wanted to be part of it when we meet up for the Belgium game."
He added: "The fitness side doesn't bother me. If he needs a bit of topping up we will do that. But his enthusiasm for the task was fantastic."
Rooney will not be accompanied by United team-mate Paul Scholes this summer because Hodgson decided there was not the "void" in his squad that would have demanded the 37-year-old's selection.
Instead, with fitness doubts hanging over Scott Parker, he will look once more at a potential midfield partnership of Frank Lampard and new skipper Steven Gerrard. It has never worked before, and Hodgson accepts he may not come up with a different conclusion.
However, after speaking with a number of senior players, he senses a deep desire to make the whole thing work, especially Gerrard, who so often has failed to match his inspirational performances for Liverpool on an international stage.
"That is probably because a lot of recent England performances have not hit the heights as far as the media and general public are concerned," said Hodgson. "I know Steven is burning to bring the qualities he has got to England. He has made that perfectly clear to me.
"I have been buoyed by some of the conversations I have had. You never know when you speak to players who have not always had the best of times and taken a lot of criticism for their performances.
"I wasn't certain I was going to get that enthusiasm - 'pick me, I want to play, give me that shirt, please don't take it from me'."