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Jun 21, 2014

Wayne Rooney backs Roy Hodgson

Wayne Rooney is not to blame for England's World Cup exit, according to Manchester United teammate Robin Van Persie.

Wayne Rooney has given his backing to Roy Hodgson, insisting he remains the right man to lead England forwards despite their early World Cup exit.

- Wayne Rooney apologises for World Cup exit
- Joe Hart and Leighton Baines back Roy Hodgson
- Brewin: Time for captain Gerrard to jump ship

They head into their final match against surprise package Costa Rica on Tuesday with nothing but pride to play for, with 2-1 defeats to Italy and Uruguay extinguishing their hopes of reaching the knock-out stages.

It is the first time England have failed to get out of the group since 1958 and has led to scrutiny about Hodgson's position at the helm.

The Football Association attempted to nip such talk in the bud by announcing it wanted him to stay on before the team's fate was sealed, and Rooney has echoed that support.

"Well, he has put a great enthusiasm in the team, a great set of young players, exciting players in place," the forward said.

"Make no doubt about it, Roy is the man to take us forward. We appreciate what he has done for us.

"He has, in my opinion, changed the way we have played over the last couple of years and I know the results have been disappointing in the last two games, but as a team we can feel we are getting better.

"I feel with the young lads in the squad, this will help them and hopefully in the future this will make us a better team."

Rooney was speaking at England's Urca training base in Rio de Janeiro, where they will leave for good on Monday when they head to Belo Horizonte for the Costa Rica match.

They will jet straight back to the UK after the Group D finale and Rooney knows they must return on the back of a victory.

"Obviously we are hurting," he said. "We are really disappointed to be out of the tournament.

"I am sure you can imagine it is quite tough and will be a long few days for us, but we have to pick ourselves up for this game on Tuesday.

"We will go out there fighting, show our pride. But overall we are disappointed and you know it is not a great feeling to go out of the tournament after two games so we want to try and restore some of our pride back."

Rooney was peppered with questions as England's failure was picked apart, varying from his role in the team's attack to why Costa Rica have succeeded.

The 28-year-old spoke well at a packed press conference and only snapped once when asked whether this or missing out on the Champions League with Manchester United hurt more.

"I don't think that's a fair question," was the reply.

"It's two completely different things, so I don't think you're really being fair asking that question."

Another question he was unwilling to answer was how he would react if offered the England armband if captain Steven Gerrard retires from international football after the World Cup.

"Steven is our captain and until anything changes I can't really answer the question," Rooney said.

"Steven is a fantastic player, a fantastic leader, and he has been for many years and we respect him 100 percent. He is a great leader for us."

If Rooney does become captain, it will heighten the already enormous pressure on him to lead England to success.

The Manchester United forward has dominated the headlines throughout the tournament but never felt under too much pressure.

"No, I think it's only right -- there should be pressure, you're playing for your country," Rooney said.

"Not just for me but the whole team, we are representing England so we have to try and do ourselves, our country, our fans proud.

"We gave everything. We have gone out of the competition but it's not through the lack of trying.

"We tried, we gave our all and this time we didn't succeed, so we move forward. We have some positives coming out of the tournament and hopefully the young players can only benefit from it.

"We have to get on with it. It's football, it happens. On Tuesday night we try to win the game, then we go home and we look at things we can do better and try to improve for the next tournament, the next qualifiers."

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