England need Rooney to fire – Hodgson
Rooney, 30, became England’s record goalscorer when he converted a penalty against Switzerland in September to surpass Bobby Charlton’s long-standing mark of 49.
Hodgson, who oversaw a perfect European Championship qualifying campaign with 10 wins from 10, praised the manner in which Rooney handled the pressure and increased media interest associated with the record.
“I think he handled that quite brilliantly,” Hodgson told Sky Sports News HQ.
“I think he handled the press comments around it before breaking the record very well. Of course it was that penalty that did it. That was an important penalty and I thought it showed how dedicated he is to his profession.”
However, the England captain has experienced contrasting fortunes with Manchester United, netting just twice in 13 Premier League games as the Red Devils have dropped out the top four in addition to suffering an early Champions League exit.
Hodgson believes Rooney has embraced his leadership role within the England set-up, providing a good example for the younger players, but the Three Lions boss stressed the striker needs to produce on the pitch as well.
“The most important thing for him as far as I’m concerned is that he’s got to keep playing well for Manchester United, playing well for England when we have our games together and that he still leads by example on the field,” Hodgson added.
“It doesn’t matter how much good work he can do for us off the field in terms of being some sort of a mentor for the younger players. We really need him being Wayne Rooney on the field scoring goals, making goals and with his drive and commitment leading us forward.”
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