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England boss Hodgson: Rooney can silence critics tonight

England coach Roy Hodgson feels Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney can silence his critics tonight. England open their World Cup campaign against Italy.

"I've been following the career of people like Wayne Rooney and Steve Gerrard for many years, before that David Beckham went through plenty of periods when people had lots to say about him as well, and yet they survive it well," said Hodgson.

"If anyone in any walk of life wanted to find out how you deal with that sort of criticism, then people like Wayne Rooney and Beckham would be good guys to turn to I think.

"It will be for Wayne to show them (the critics) really. The World Cup is a major event, the coverage is quite enormous, 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.

"First of all, he's only got to persuade me that he is good enough to be in the team and when he gets into the team he's only got to play well and show the others. But I don't think there is any reason to get involved in polemics as far as I'm concerned - I selected Wayne Rooney, I take the responsibility for bringing him into the squad and if I put him in the team I'll take that responsibility. If I do it, it's because I believe in him.

"His career has been great, even now he is 28 years of age and what he's done is really quite outstanding. I think it's a tribute to his quality and his career that people put so much pressure on him to perform, that they are saying it's all about Wayne Rooney. This is the time for him to shine, the time for him to score goals.

"As a coach, I would like to try and alleviate that pressure to some extent. I just want him to be good, to play well, and if he does play well and if he has good games then I'm sure the goals will come because he is a goalscorer. But I wouldn't like, personally, as a coach to suggest that all the responsibility rests with him - there are a lot of players out there who've got to take responsibility.

"I know, I'm not naive, I realise that Steven and Wayne are going to be right up there when it comes to focal points, but it would be very nice when it comes to some of the other players in the team who have got the ability could chip in as well and take a little bit of the pressure off these players."

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