Roy Hodgson is insistent that Wayne Rooney be chosen in England’s Euro 2012 squad, despite receiving a three-match ban that means he’ll miss the group stage of the tournament.
The England striker was sent off for kicking-out during England’s final qualifier for next summer’s European Championships and has been handed an extended ban meaning he’ll miss all three group games in Poland and Ukraine.
The ban has sparked debate as whether Rooney, who would only be eligible for the knock-out phase of the competition if selected, should occupy one of the 23 players in Fabio Capello’s squad.
“I’m surprised it’s even a debate,” Hodgson said.
“The discussion over whether he should go for me shouldn’t even be raised.
“I think England will get through the qualifying stages and are always capable of winning one of these tournaments and the last thing you want to do is leave a player of Wayne Rooney’s caliber at home because you’ll never know when you’ll need him.
“You might need him in the final to win it for you.
“Should he go? No question. Should the FA do everything they can to reduce the ban? No question.”
Hodgson has been long tipped as a replacement to Fabio Capello following next summer’s tournament, but is currently working wonders with West Bromwich Albion after a difficult spell with Liverpool, Rooney’s opponents this weekend.
“Players of Wayne Rooney’s caliber don’t come up everyday so there’s no doubt he’ll be very, very sorely missed,” Hodgson added.
“For me he’s a player that’s in the top, top echelons and I’m rather hoping they’ll be an appeal and I’m rather hoping that the ban will be reduced. “
Apart from being a intrinsic part of England’s attack, Rooney performances, particularly during the past two years, means he’s considered in many quarters to be one of finest players in Europe, and Hodgson feels the absence of the 25-year-old next summer is a great loss for lovers of the game.
“I think it’s a tragedy that for those of us that love football and are looking forward to the European Championships where we want to see the best players playing," the Baggies boss continued.
"They are going to be deprived of one of Europe’s best players, certainly one of England’s best players if not England’s best player being unable to play all through the qualifying rounds.
“I find that very sad.”