Hodgson to test Sturridge-Rooney duo
Roy Hodgson hopes this is the week when Wayne Rooney's partnership with Daniel Sturridge starts to blossom.
Sturridge and Rooney were the top English goal scorers in the Premier League last season with 38 goals between them. But the England manager has only been able to start the pair together five times due to injury. Rooney and Sturridge have scored four goals in those five matches, but Hodgson is looking for an even better return from the duo when they head to Brazil.
Hodgson will start tactical work with his squad at St George's Park this week in the build up to Friday's farewell friendly against Peru at Wembley. And the hope is that Sturridge can strike up the same kind of "telepathic" relationship with Rooney as he enjoys with Luis Suarez at Liverpool.
"We've seen an awful lot of the Sturridge-Suarez partnership but not a lot of the Rooney-Sturridge partnership because they haven't had a lot of time to play together and now's our chance," Hodgson said. "From this week we start to move away from bigger focus on fitness and getting people in the right shape to tactical preparation. That's when the partnerships will start to develop."
If the pair show signs they are not suited to playing alongside each other, Hodgson will be forced to consider alternatives. One of those would be to bring Danny Welbeck or Rickie Lambert into a three-pronged attack, with three central midfielders sitting behind.
"It won't just be Rooney-Sturridge, we will be working on Welbeck and Lambert as well," Hodgson added. "I think it's too early to start making big bold statements and judgements on the Rooney-Sturridge partnership being X or Y because we haven't seen enough of it."
Hodgson's 23-man squad met up in Burton on Monday after being given the weekend off following a five-day warm weather training camp in Portugal.
They will head to Miami to face Ecuador and Honduras after the Wembley match against Peru. Hodgson is likely to experiment during this week's match in London and one of those that could get a run out is Everton midfielder Ross Barkley.
Barkley may have just three England substitute appearances to his name, but Rooney thinks the 20-year-old can shine in Brazil.
"He is fantastic," said Rooney, who, like Barkley, came through the youth ranks at Everton. "I've been watching a lot of the Everton games and seeing what he has done there is great, having a young English lad coming through like that.
"Training with him and seeing him up close is great. He has got so much talent and if he gets his chance, I am sure he will do fantastic and he can light this World Cup up."