Hodgson: I won't push Rooney
Roy Hodgson has vowed not to push Wayne Rooney too hard in Wednesday's friendly with Scotland, for England's sake as well as Manchester United's.
Rooney finally got to make a public appearance of his own at St George's Park on Monday afternoon after a summer in which his name has rarely been out of the headlines.
He made the most of it too, emerging fully half an hour before the rest of his England team-mates, as if to underline his fitness, which was the subject of so much irritation from David Moyes at Wembley on Sunday.
There has been an element of farce about events of the past seven days, in which Rooney was not deemed fit enough to play in three pre-season games, but did train with United's reserves and - according to Hodgson - played a full part in Monday's session, having missed the Community Shield less than 24 hours earlier.
But Rooney's fitness is a serious matter for Hodgson ahead of next month's crucial World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine. And he is not prepared to do anything to risk it.
"Wayne has missed enough football this season and I don't want him to miss any more," said Hodgson. "I will have to talk to the medical and fitness people about it because it gets a bit tricky if you decide to start him and see how long he lasts.
"Then you can get past a point where medically he should have been taken off but because he wants to carry on or you still want him on the field because you need a result, you can push him a bit too far.
"I don't want to push him beyond the limit he shouldn't pass. I would be very disappointed if he played too long in this game, sent him back to Manchester United injured and then he missed another period of time."
It would be bad news not just for United - or wherever Rooney ends up playing after the transfer window has closed - but also England given the 27-year-old's importance to the national cause.
That status is confirmed by Hodgson's refusal to countenance leaving Rooney out next month, even if his delicate club situation remains unresolved.
"It would be very nice if that happened, both for him and his club," said Hodgson, when asked whether he would prefer Rooney's situation to be resolved quickly.
"My hope and desire is that is what will happen. But in my year and a bit as national team manager I have been faced many times with a situation where players are not always playing in their team.
"I am thinking James Milner, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and others. Of course it is not ideal but I have to deal with situations that are there and because they have the qualities, talent and skills we are looking for, they have managed to be selected.
"I am hoping that won't be the case with Wayne but I am not prepared to make any statements to suggest if he is not playing he cannot be considered for England. He will always be considered for England whilst he is physically fit because he is one of our best players."
Though he was obviously speaking with his tongue firmly in his cheek, Hodgson raised an eyebrow as he explained Rooney's early appearance for training.
"He knows you guys are there probably," he said. "He hasn't had enough of the mass media recently and wanted to get his face on TV."
Nevertheless, Rooney did seem to be making a point about his recovery from the hamstring and shoulder injuries that have prevented him featuring in any competitive match during United's pre-season programme, the extent of which provoked such forthright comments from his club manager.
Hodgson did admit he will look at the performance data of Monday's training session before deciding what the plan will be on Wednesday.
However, both he, and everyone else, would be surprised if Rooney did not have some meaningful involvement against Scotland on Wednesday.
And the inescapable fact was that Rooney looked happy as the cameras rolled, with Hodgson accepting body language is often a solid guide to a player's well-being.
"Body language is quite an important thing actually," he said. "You can read quite a lot into a player's demeanour. You won't have it all the time as they have their own private problems, and at club level in particular you might have one or two who are unhappy with their situations."