Teddy Sheringham: Wayne Rooney is a world class forward who would be wasted in midfield against Russia

Former England legend Teddy Sheringham on why Wayne Rooney's talents would be wasted in the middle of the park in the opening Euro 2016 clash with Russia

Wayne Rooney makes a tackle in midfield

At any level it is tough to score goals - put Rooney up front so he can deliver

Teddy Sheringham hits out at reports that Rooney may start England's opening Euro 2016 game in midfield

The papers are reporting that Wayne Rooney is likely to start in midfield for England’s opening Euro 2016 match with Russia. If that is the case then Roy Hodgson has been forced to make the decision because he has two strikers in his squad that are bang in form. When you have class forwards like Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy scoring goals then you simply have to put them on the pitch.

However Wayne Rooney is wasted as a midfielder. He’s an experienced centre-forward, who can play off a front-man and drop deeper if he wants. Rooney is a good midfielder, but he’s definitely not a world class midfielder. He is a different level in a number 10 role and that’s where England should utilise him.

Players that have been midfielders all their lives know the intricacies of the position. They know the little moves that can create a bit of space. Wayne Rooney has been a striker since day one. He played out wide at times for Manchester United and England, but he is a forward player. At any level it is tough to score goals – yet Rooney is the nation’s all-time record goalscorer. So put him up front where he can deliver.

Wayne Rooney can be an influence in the middle of the park – his experience at the top level will be valuable to England in that position – but it’s a waste of a world class talent.

The Russia game is clearly a match England can win – and the odds of 10/11 reflect that. But there has to be a cautious mentality. If the Three Lions are still going hell-for-leather with 10-15 minutes remaining and everyone is pushing forward leaving space open at the back then that could be disastrous for England. Roy Hodgson has to set his team up to play in the right manner. 

Obviously everyone wants to get off to a good start as it puts you in good stead for the next game, but the most important thing is not to lose. If you lose your first game then without a doubt you are in serious trouble. It’s not easy to bounce back and respond. It’s a lot like a golf competition in that you can’t win the tournament on the first day, but you can certainly lose it.

Setting up to get the right result is something that as a player or a manager you really have to think about. English punters will be going in full steam, and they’re right, because we’re good enough to be beating Russia – but Leonid Slutsky’s side could easily hit Hodgson’s team with a sucker-punch of their own. Russia will be fired up for the tournament and you have to respect the opposition at these major tournaments. It’s a fixture that England can win, but the key is avoiding defeat.

What do you think?