London: Roy Hodgson has dropped the strongest hint yet that Wayne Rooney is set to succeed Steven Gerrard as England captain. But, while the manager said he has made the decision, he is yet to make the next recipient of the armband aware of it.
Rooney and Frank Lampard (the vice-captain, who recently left Chelsea for New York City FC before returning to Manchester City on loan) are favourites for the position.
But, in a TV interview, Hodgson sounded as if he was veering towards Rooney, the Manchester United striker, to lead the team, starting with the friendly against Norway at Wembley on September 3, five days before the 2016 European Championship qualification campaign kicks off in Switzerland.
“The person who is captain for the Norway game will be the person I will be designating to hopefully be the captain in 2016,” Hodgson told Sky Sports News. “At the moment Frank’s concentration has to be firstly on this Man City job and then in New York City, where he could very well be captain.
“I don’t think I can expect him to say ‘please make me captain because in 2018 I want to lead the team out’ because I don’t think he will be thinking that himself. But having said that, if he is with us in the first game who knows then he could captain us that day.”
Rooney seems the most likely person to take the armband in the long-term and Hodgson added: “When you’re captain, the pressures that are on you anyway are exacerbated and you’ve got to be strong enough and a tough enough character to deal with that.”
The England manager admitted that there were “dark moments” after his side’s humiliating exit from the World Cup in Brazil, but emphasised that he never considered handing in his resignation.
“There have been plenty of dark moments, times where looking back you don’t believe fate has put you in that situation,” the 67-year-old said.
“But the fact is that I would quite happily relinquish this job any time my employers think they don’t want me anymore, or when I feel the players don’t have the respect necessary or feel they don’t want to continue playing for me. In that moment if it’s time for me to walk away I will do, but this time it was made clear to me that wasn’t the situation.
“The FA wanted me to continue in the job, the feedback from the people around the team was the same, therefore there was never any doubt in my mind that I would continue.”
Gerrard retired from international football after England failed to get out of the group stage in Brazil.