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 up 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.
However, after dropping points against Ukraine on Tuesday night, Hodgson needs as many of his top players available as possible. And 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 boss promptly axed the former Everton man for that Fulham game, 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."
- Wayne Rooney