Belfast Telegraph

Roy Hodgson tips Wayne Rooney to captain England in Euro battles

By Martyn Ziegler

Roy Hodgson has expressed his pleasure that Wayne Rooney has settled his future before the World Cup and believes the Manchester United striker could be England's captain for the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

England have been handed a seemingly straightforward draw for Euro 2016 in Group E along with Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino.

Hodgson insists current England skipper Steven Gerrard may still be involved but views Rooney as a future captain.

The England boss has no doubts that Rooney would have been focused on the World Cup even if he had not signed a new deal with United but is pleased the five-and-a-half year contract for the striker removes any uncertainty.

Hodgson, speaking in Nice after the Euro 2016 draw, said: "I trust Wayne and even if his future hadn't been settled in this way he could have still focused on the World Cup.

"It must be nice for him to know he's committed the bulk of his best playing years to Manchester United and England, so we're very happy for him and very happy for Manchester United and ourselves as well.

"Wayne, I'm sure, is a future captain of England because we are losing some of the famous players of the past who have served England so well.

"Steven Gerrard's playing magnificently for Liverpool and has been a major factor in their season so far, and I wouldn't want to write him off (for Euro 2016) but maybe when the day comes for Gerrard to hang up his boots, Wayne will be straight in there."

Hodgson was delighted England have drawn Switzerland, the side he managed when they qualified for the 1994 World Cup and Euro 96.

"From an emotional, sentimental and nostalgic point of view, Switzerland was always something special," he added.

"I was pleased to see them coming out of the hat even though they are high in the rankings."

Switzerland should be England's biggest challenge, having secured a 2-2 draw at Wembley during qualifying for Euro 2012, but Slovenia proved problematic at the 2010 World Cup when England squeaked home 1-0.

England will kick off their Euro 2016 campaign away in Switzerland on Monday, September 8.

England's Euro 2016 qualifying fixtures: Monday September 8 2014: Switzerland (Away); Thursday October 9 2014: San Marino (Home); Sunday October 12 2014: Estonia (Away); Saturday November 15 2014: Slovenia (Home); Friday March 27 2015: Lithuania (Home); Sunday Jun 14 2015: Slovenia (Away); Saturday September 5 2015: San Marino (Away); Tuesday September 8 2015: Switzerland (Home); Friday October 9 2015: Estonia (Home); Monday October 12 2015: Lithuania (Away).

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