Roy Hodgson wants Wayne Rooney to silence his critics by firing England to a win in their opening World Cup match against Italy.
Hodgson, ever the scholar, used the Royal Air Force’s motto ‘Per ardua ad astra’ (Through adversity to the stars) to describe his route to the top, and the same applies to Rooney’s potential journey back to the big time.
Until recently Rooney was regarded as the undisputed high-flier among England’s crop of forwards.
But, the emergence of Daniel Sturridge, and the likes of Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley, have put Rooney in the shade somewhat.
The critics have come out of the woodwork, including some from unexpected quarters like former team-mate Paul Scholes, who suggested Rooney might be past his peak.
But now Rooney has the perfect chance to end the doubts surrounding him in England’s first Group D match against Italy on Saturday night.
“That (match) will be (the time) for Wayne to show them,” the England manager said when asked about criticism of Rooney.
“The World Cup is a major event, the coverage is quite enormous - all the journalists who are out here, the TV stations, the radio stations, it’s just par for the course that there are going to be lots of opinions.
“A lot of those opinions will be opinions that players may not want to hear. But the good thing is, Wayne Rooney has got a chance.”
Hodgson has praised Rooney for saying he intends to “enjoy” the tournament, but the England manager does not want the Manchester United forward to be too laid back.
“The word ‘enjoy’ is a dangerous word to some extent, you only ever enjoy things that you do well, if things don’t go well or you don’t feel like you’ve realised your full potential as a player, enjoyment is hard to find.”