Hodgson: Rooney England's next captain
England manager Roy Hodgson believes striker Wayne Rooney will be his nation's next permanent captain.
Manchester United's Rooney led his country for the second time in Friday's 5-0 win over San Marino, when his brace took him to 31 international goals, the fifth highest total in England's history.
And now Hodgson has said Rooney is in pole position to take over from Steven Gerrard as skipper. Gerrard was suspended for the San Marino game and will return for Tuesday's trip to Poland but, at 32, he is more than five years older than Rooney.
And Frank Lampard, who took the armband when the Liverpool midfielder was sent off against Ukraine, is older still at 34, while one former England captain, John Terry, has announced his international retirement and another, Rio Ferdinand, is not in the squad. So Rooney, who does not turn 27 until later this month, is in line to take over from Gerrard.
When asked if he was a future England captain, Hodgson replied: "Yes. He was my vice-captain at the Euros from the moment he could start playing again. He does take playing for England unbelievably seriously. I know being captain is something he's very proud of and something he wants to do.
"Frank Lampard has captained the team when both Steven (Gerrard) and Wayne were absent. But I always had in my mind that Wayne would be the vice-captain and when Frank comes back I suppose I've got a decision to make."
Rooney first led England under Fabio Capello in a 2009 friendly defeat to Brazil and Hodgson hopes the added responsibility will enable the forward to display his club form for his country. At the moment I am seeing the best of Wayne Rooney," he said. "Maybe in the earlier games he could play for me he wasn't at that level.
"Now I have to hope now he stays at his best and that he stays fit and healthy and continues to do what he is doing for Manchester United at the moment, which means he'll do it for us as well."
Rooney had already said he would relish the chance to succeed Gerrard as skipper. "If you can get the opportunity to captain your country, it's something which I think - as a player - you need to grab with both hands," he explained. "In the future, hopefully that'll happen but, at the minute, Steven's our captain and he'll lead by example for us.