Hodgson tips Rooney to shine
England manager Roy Hodgson believes 2014 could be the year when Wayne Rooney confirms himself to be a true star on the world stage.
Rooney has struggled to make his mark in major tournaments for England over the last few years -- failing to score at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups -- but the England boss is hoping that script will change when he leads his nation's challenge at next summer's World Cup finals.
"My hope and the message to him is: 'this is your chance'," Hodgson told reporters when asked about Rooney. "He is 28, that's a terrific age.
"This is the world stage, the perfect opportunity for him to prove to people in the world what we already know - that he is a very, very gifted footballer, a very good all-round footballer who is capable of playing in many positions.
"He is someone who is a leading light in his team which is one of the best in the world.
"It would be nice to see him reproducing that form for England and I am confident he will. It's a great opportunity to show that he is not just a great star in the Premier League, but that he is a world star.
"Wayne has taken on responsibility with Manchester United and he always takes responsibility with the national team and I think this has been a great year for him.
"At the moment circumstances seem to be contriving towards England having a Wayne Rooney in top condition physically and mentally, and in terms of his ability, we all know how good that is."
Hodgson went on to offer an alternative view to the long-standing theory that the intensity of the domestic game in England harmed the national team's hopes of success in major tournaments, as he suggested rival World Cup nations may also feel the effect of a draining Premier League season.
"The players will be exhausted, they will be tired," accepted Hodgson, who has already seen Arsenal winger Theo Walcott ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury.
"In the past we've lamented the intensity of our league and how that puts us at a slight disadvantage, but there are 23 Frenchmen playing regularly in the league, 15 Belgians and 14 Spaniards, so we're not going to be quite so much alone.
"A few of those players, like Luis Suarez, are not going to be any fresher than Wayne Rooney is."
England are back in action when they take on Denmark at Wembley on March 5 at Wembley.