sport

McLeish: Play Rooney up front

Alex McLeish believes England manager Roy Hodgson needs to change Wayne Rooney’s position against Uruguay - or drop him from the side.

Rooney lined up on the left wing in England's 2-1 defeat to Italy in their opening World Cup game on Saturday night.

Although Daniel Sturridge scored from his cross, the Manchester United forward has been criticised for his performance, with the player himself admitting his place in the team is not guaranteed.

McLeish feels Rooney will remain in the starting XI but that his role will be tweaked so that his focus can be placed more on attacking in a game England need to win.

"I don't think he is England's best player, certainly on current form, but I do believe he should be playing up front rather than in a wide area," the former Scotland manager told Sky Sports World Cup Verdict.

"England don't have to capacity to play him there, like Real Madrid do with Cristiano Ronaldo for example, he does a lot of work in terms of helping his full-back out.

"There definitely should be a change of position for him if Roy decides to keep him in the team.

"He's a superb player but I don't think he's immune to being dropped and Wayne himself admitted that.

"I don't know if that will inspire him; he is working very hard for the team and in that wide area you have to sacrifice some of the defensive aspects because he has to reserve his energy for the attacking work he does."

David Bentley feels Rooney may have lost some of his self-belief but that Hodgson and the England squad should put their trust in a player who scored 19 goals for United last season.

The former Arsenal and Blackburn midfielder believes Rooney remains the best option available to the national side but that the criticism he has received may be leading to some doubts.

"He is the best player we've got and we have to trust him," he said. "We need to get him on the ball and give him the service.

"Everyone wants to get on at him because he's so highly paid and that comes with a lot of exposure but he should be trusted to perform.

"Before the games he must be thinking 'what's the point' so I think we need to get off his back.

"He's probably lost the feeling you get when you play for your country. He's probably going out there and not believing in himself."