Rooney favourite for England role

Wayne Rooney is the favourite to be England's next captain

Wayne Rooney is the favourite to be England's next captain

First published in National Sport © by

Wayne Rooney is the overwhelming favourite to be named England captain on Thursday.

England manager Roy Hodgson will name his squad for the upcoming matches against Norway and Switzerland at a noon press conference, and he is also expected to announce who will succeed Steven Gerrard as captain.

It would be a huge surprise if Rooney was not handed the honour of leading his country.

Following the international retirements of Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, Rooney is by far the most experienced member of the pool of players available to Hodgson, who is looking to establish a new order following England's miserable World Cup campaign.

The 28-year-old has 95 caps, he has just been appointed skipper of Manchester United and importantly, he has the blessing of Gerrard.

"He is a natural leader," said the Liverpool midfielder, who led England throughout the first two years of Hodgson's reign.

"Aside from being a top player, one who commands respect within the group, Wayne is passionate about representing his country and won't be fazed by the responsibility."

There is a feeling that Rooney is a much more mature and respectable figure than the one that was sent off for petulantly lashing out at Ricardo Carvalho in 2006 and five years later against Montenegro's Miodrag Dzudovic.

The former Everton man clearly has the respect of Louis van Gaal, who chose him to captain United over Robin van Persie.

Gary Cahill and Joe Hart look to be the other two candidates and either of them could end up taking the vice-captaincy, which has been left vacant following Lampard's decision to retire from the international game on Tuesday.

With Lampard, Gerrard and Cole, now out of the equation, Hodgson knows his squad will have a youthful and inexperienced look about it when he names it at Wembley.

The England manager said he was "numb with disappointment" as he trudged out of the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo following the 2-1 defeat to Uruguay which effectively knocked the Three Lions out of the World Cup.

But 10 weeks later, Hodgson sounds optimistic about the future.

"I thought in the final game against Costa Rica when we gave a few young players a chance to show what they could do, I was quite buoyed by that and I have been buoyed by some of the performances in pre-season and early in the Premier League," Hodgson said during a Google Hangout with England sponsors Vauxhall recently.

Of those inexperienced players used in the 0-0 draw against Costa Rica, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling could miss out on the upcoming double-header through injury while Ross Barkley is definitely out with knee ligament damage.

Theo Walcott, Jay Rodriguez and Kyle Walker will miss the games because they are still recovering from the injuries that kept them out of the World Cup.

Glen Johnson is struggling with a thigh injury so he could miss out, as may Jon Flanagan (knee) and Kieran Gibbs (hamstring).

With so few options at full-back, it will be interesting to see whether Hodgson calls up Calum Chambers, who has impressed following his summer move to Arsenal, or Nathaniel Clyne, the highly-rated Southampton defender.

Smalling's injury could open the door for John Stones, who was on the World Cup standby list, or Hodgson could take another look at QPR defender Steven Caulker.

After such a poor showing in Brazil, the Football Association is bracing itself for potentially the worst crowd for an England match since Wembley reopened when Norway come to London on September 3.

Only 17,000 tickets had been sold as of last Thursday.

The lowest England attendance since Wembley was rebuilt came in 2011, when 48,876 watched the Three Lions beat Sweden 1-0.

Five days after the Norway match, England travel to Basle, where they play Switzerland in their first Euro 2016 qualifier.

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