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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Jun 16, 2014

Rooney: I'm fighting for my place

The ESPN FC panel weigh in on England's great effort in their 2-1 defeat and touch upon Uruguay's shock loss to Costa Rica.

Wayne Rooney has said he is fighting for his place in England's starting XI for the crucial second group game against Uruguay.

- England back Rooney despite criticism
- Brewin: No more room for error
- Macintosh: It's OK to like England again
- Rzouki: Clinical display from Azzurri
- Toe Poke: The worst ever WC corner?

The Manchester United player set up Daniel Sturridge for England's equaliser against Italy with a superb cross, but otherwise endured a frustrating night as he played out of position on the left in the 2-1 defeat on Saturday.

He said no player was guaranteed a spot in Roy Hodgson's team but added that the rise to prominence of Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling meant he needed to prove his worth more than ever.

"Why would I feel my place in the team is guaranteed?" he told reporters. "I work hard to try and get into that team.

"I have never said my place is guaranteed. I don't expect to play, but I work hard. I want to play.

"We have got a lot of good young players, so we will all work hard. We all give the manager different options, different choices, and whoever he picks I am sure we will all respect that."

In the past, Rooney has admitted reservations about playing out wide for United, and he echoed those sentiments again.

He said: "I don't know if it brings the best out of me, but I enjoyed the game. I was involved in the game, could have scored, created the goal and felt I had an influence."

He described the Uruguay game as "do-or-die" and added: "We know if we lose we are more or less out, so we have to be positive. We have to win both games to go through now."

His former Old Trafford teammate Paul Scholes has called for him to be played up front on Thursday -- but his prospects of starting are uncertain, with United colleague Danny Welbeck and Sturridge also impressing against the Italians.

Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana made lively appearances from the bench, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could come into the picture after resuming full training following the knee injury suffered in the warm-up game against Ecuador.

Coach Hodgson is likely to stick with Sterling on Thursday, but may not choose to deploy him through the middle as he did in Manaus.

But he appeared to hint that Rooney could continue against Uruguay, saying he would make sure the player gets himself into the box more.

Rooney only touched the ball once in Italy's penalty area, when he shot into the side netting from 12 yards in the second half, and Hodgson said: "We want him in the area more.

"I thought he set up the goal really well with that clever pass. But we want Wayne in the box, and there's no question we will get him in the box."

He remained upbeat about England's chances of qualifying, saying: "We won't panic. It was as positive performance as I have seen from us."

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