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England U21s -- Strength in depth

Tactics And Analysis 5 days ago
 By Kevin Palmer
Sep 4, 2014

Joe Hart backs Wayne Rooney as England captain

The ESPN FC panel discuss what the England national team still need to improve upon following the World Cup.

Wayne Rooney has found support from a cross-city rival after criticism of his display on his first night as England's permanent captain, with Manchester City keeper Joe Hart offering unwavering backing to the Manchester United striker.

Rooney and England failed to impress as they beat Norway 1-0 at Wembley on Wednesday, with some radio phone-ins and newspaper reports suggesting the striker has not justified his place in Roy Hodgson's lineup after a summer that included some disappointing World Cup displays.

Hodgson admitted he considered Hart as a possible captain to replace the retired Steven Gerrard, but he opted for Rooney and that choice appears to have the backing of the England dressing room.

"Wazza is a born leader," Hart told the Manchester Evening News. "He's been around the setup now for years and years.

"He's the pin-up boy of English football and someone we are all very proud to work under. He's a good leader. He got around. He's the main man in English football."

- Macintosh: Three Lions as dull as ever
- Brewin: It's a question of leadership

Hart went on to insist the criticism that England have endured in recent months needs to be banished as they prepare for a new chapter with their first Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland in Basel on Monday.

"Every two years something new starts," added Hart. "That's just how it is with football. Whether it has gone very well or very badly. The Germans have got to start again just as much as we have.

"We are looking forward to France [Euro 2016 finals]. We are looking forward to Switzerland. We haven't won for a while. We haven't won since we last played at Wembley. We needed it.

"We've got to look forward now. We've got to learn from our mistakes. We've got to look forward to France and build a team, build an ethos and a mentality and hopefully make it a winning one.

"We are confident. We have got a good squad. We've been under this manager for a good while now. We know what's required of us."


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