Hodgson believes England 'owes' Rooney for his international service
Roy Hodgson crosses paths with his former England captain Wayne Rooney this weekend still surprised he is not pursuing a place at the World Cup with the country that "owes him."
Hodgson showed significant faith in Rooney, 32, when appointing him England captain after Steven Gerrard's international retirement and was rewarded with some of his finest form.
Under Hodgson, the forward became England's record goalscorer and most-capped outfield player, but a little over a year after the manager's resignation announced his retirement from international football, while also leaving Manchester United for Everton.
Gareth Southgate had wanted to recall him to the England squad after he had been dropped and Hodgson, now with Crystal Palace and who who remains in contact with Rooney, said: "I thought he would try and continue to get to the next World Cup.
"I was a little surprised when he retired. He knows that because I've spoken to him. These are decisions players have to make.
"I'm not party to all those facts and considerations he's thought about. But one thing I do know is England owes him -- he owes England nothing -- because he gave his all for England and did more than his fair share of what someone could expect for England.
"His record alone would put him in that category [of the greatest I have managed].
"When the day comes when he says he wants to retire, even if it surprises a guy like me because I know how passionate he is about playing for England, I am very sure he's had good reasons for coming to that decision.
"He's thought about it very, very carefully before ringing Gareth Southgate up and telling him.
"When I say spoke, it was by text, around about the time that he retired. I spoke to him then: we texted. I had a letter from him the other week on another subject.
"I don't keep in contact with players all the time -- I've got enough players here to deal with -- but I like to think those players I worked with know that I still care about them and still appreciate what they did for me in my England time.''
The 70-year-old Hodgson hopes Ruben Loftus-Cheek will have recovered from a back spasm in time to start against Everton, and again has Christian Benteke fit to start following a knee injury.
His team remain bottom of the Premier League but their next opponents represent the start of a run of fixtures that also includes Stoke, Brighton, West Brom, Bournemouth, Watford, Leicester and Swansea from which they will be confident of securing points.
"There'll be three teams to go down this year and each one of those three will at some stage be told 'You are too good to go down,''' he responded when asked if Everton came into that category. "I don't believe in the expression.
"That's insulting the intelligence of fellow professionals. All of us know that's a meaningless statement, the type of words people might tell you to cheer you up.''