Wayne Rooney is set to be rested for England’s Euro 2016 clash against Slovakia.
Many media outlets are reporting that Roy Hodgson will rest his captain, with the knockout stages in mind.
Which is good news for Slovakia’s Marek Hamsik, who has identified Rooney as a “world-class player”.
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The Napoli man caught the attention of Hodgson for his fine performance in Slovakia’s 2-1 win over Russia last Wednesday, the England boss calling Hamsik an “exceptional player”.
And now it’s Hamsik’s turn to dish out the praise.
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“I admire his playing style a lot,” Hamsik said about Rooney, per FourFourTwo. “He is a world-class player.”
Five years ago, football fans would have unanimously agreed with Hamsik. But today, the Manchester United star has his critics.
However, Rooney proved in the 2-1 win over Wales that he can extend his career in centre-midfield. The 30-year-old was one of England’s standout players and his presence will be missed tonight.
Hamsik dismissed comparisons with Steven Gerrard when a reporter asked him which England player he is most like.
“The English team is going through a big change in regard to the players,” the 28-year-old replied. “There is a new generation coming through and there is a perfect blend of young and old.
“I am not sure if there is a player with the same characteristics as me. In the past the press has often compared me to Steven Gerrard but I don't know if that is true or not."
Jan Kozak’s team will book their place in the knockout stages with a victory and Hodgson knows that stopping Hamsik, who will make his 90th cap, is key.
“As a team, we certainly think Slovakia are very dangerous going forward,” the 68-year-old said, per the Daily Mail. “They have got a front line and although I didn’t want to single him out, Hamsik does need singling out because he is an exceptional player.
“I think we go into this game well prepared but we also go into it knowing that we are playing an opponent who, if we aren’t careful, could cause us lots of problems. If they do and we don’t get the result we want we will have made life more difficult for ourselves.”
Hamsik showed what he can do by scoring a delightful goal against Russia. His presence will add to the game’s excitement.
It’s a pity, then, that Rooney might not be around to share the stage.