Taylor fears for Rooney

Congleton Guardian: Wayne Rooney's performance in England's defeat to Italy was a hot topic of conversation Wayne Rooney's performance in England's defeat to Italy was a hot topic of conversation

Former England manager Graham Taylor is concerned by Wayne Rooney's recent performances after the striker's indifferent display in the 2-1 World Cup defeat to Italy on Saturday night.

Rooney was a hot topic of conversation following the result in Manaus, with the Manchester United forward providing a sublime cross for Daniel Sturridge to score England's goal, but appearing uncomfortable overall in an out-of-position role on the left wing.

Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson leapt to the under-fire striker's defence, pointing to his assist, yet Taylor believes Rooney needs to be given a central role.

"This business of asking him to play wide, I'm not too certain it's working," Taylor told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"From a personal point of view, I would like to see him playing in that centre-forward position because I think that's where you get the best out of him.

"Asking him to come out wide, it gives me the impression at times that he doesn't like that and he's not into that.

"I'm not in any way, shape or form telling Roy who to select, but for me it's a little bit worrying seeing his performances at the moment. They're not of the Wayne Rooney type that we know."

Rooney's performance was criticised in some quarters for his failure to provide full-back Leighton Baines with adequate cover, with Italy attacking down England's left flank on numerous occasions.

Yet it was shooting wide from an excellent position shortly after England had slipped 2-1 down that drew a lot of ire, and he has now not scored in nine World Cup finals appearances.

Former England captain Alan Shearer told BBC1: "It was that lack of quality in the final third that was our downfall. Rooney had his big chance and he failed to take it and, at this level in the World Cup, you only get one chance in the game and you have to score.

"Mario Balotelli got one chance for Italy, and scored the winner. Rooney has still not scored at a World Cup finals and he might not get a better chance than that."

Former Arsenal and France striker Thierry Henry echoed Shearer's sentiments, adding: "The result comes down to that Wayne Rooney miss and Mario Balotelli taking his chance from a great cross into the box.

"There is a debate about whether England should play Rooney out on the left like they did but, when you look at that chance he missed, he is central, and in the best position that he can be.

"I have missed chances like that, but Wayne will know that in a game like this one, he has to score there. He didn't, and that was the turning point for me."

Former England midfielder Alan Mullery, who earned 35 caps and represented his country at the 1970 tournament, believes Rooney should be dropped if Hodgson does not want to use him in his preferred position.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live programme Sportsweek, Mullery said: "I would leave him out because I think the balance would be better, unless we play him in the position where he loves to be - in the box and scoring goals.

"Rooney is a big, big star. If we play him in the right position, fine. If not, he can't play wide on the left hand side so pick somebody that can."

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