England manager Roy Hodgson is confident captain Wayne Rooney will save him from a selection dilemma by making a full recovery from injury in time for Euro 2016 but said the striker would not necessarily be an automatic starter.
Rooney, England's record goalscorer, has been out since Feb. 13 with a knee ligament problem and although he was scheduled to return at the start of April a setback then ruled him out for another month.
Questions have been raised in the media over whether the 30-year-old Manchester United forward will be fit by the time Hodgson names his provisional squad on May 12 but the manager played down fears his captain could miss the tournament.
"I'm confident he'll get fit and I won't have a situation where I have the dilemma of May 12 arriving and him not being 100 percent fit but knowing he could make it by the time the tournament starts," Hodgson told British media.
With a wealth of forward options at his disposal, the 68-year-old said even a fully fit Rooney was not guaranteed a starting spot for the June 10-July 10 tournament.
"I've never said he's is an automatic starter. I've never said anyone is. Does he have a good chance with his track record, ability and experience? Of course he does," Hodgson added.
"But that doesn't necessarily mean he will be in the lineup. He might not have recovered to the best of his ability, or we might want to use different players or play in a different way.
"If I think others are better or the right men to play in a particular way, he will accept that because he's a footballer, our leader and our captain. If he's fit, he'll go. But not as an automatic starter."
Hodgson has called up Premier League joint-top scorers Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane, the fit-again Daniel Sturridge, and Arsenal's Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck for friendlies against world champions Germany in Berlin on March 26 and the Netherlands at Wembley three days later.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Mar 18, 2016 13:54:56 IST