RIO DE JANEIRO, June 17- The Football Association has reacted to speculation about striker Wayne Rooney’s place in the England team by explaining that he trained with back-up players at his own request on Monday.
Playing in an unfavoured left-sided role, Rooney produced a subdued display as England lost 2-1 to Italy in their opening World Cup game in Manaus on Saturday.
He trained alongside the substitutes from that match at England’s Rio de Janeiro training base on Monday, prompting reports in the British media that he may be dropped for his side’s second Group D game against Uruguay on Thursday.
But in a statement on Twitter, the FA said that the Manchester United striker was merely eager to maintain peak fitness between matches.
“Contrary to reports, @WayneRooney requested additional training and worked with a wider group of players on Monday,” it said.
“Following a recovery session on Sunday a number of players continued two-day post-match recovery on Monday. Rooney was not in that group.”
England coach Gary Neville has praised Rooney’s willingness to play on the left and declared that manager Roy Hodgson’s back-room staff were more than happy with his performance against Italy.
“Can Wayne play on the left? I’ve seen him play in England games past on the left, I’ve seen him play for Manchester United on the left,” Neville told ITV.
“He’s played there I don’t know how many times in the last six or seven years, because you need to accommodate different players and different systems.
“He’s a team player. He will sacrifice himself for the team. In terms of performance, not one of the coaching staff came off thinking that Rooney had played badly at all.”