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London – England manager Roy Hodgson says that Wayne Rooney will be ready to cope with whatever provocation is thrown at him when he returns to play in Montenegro for a crucial World Cup qualifier.
Rooney was sent off on his last visit to the country, in October 2011, for kicking out at Montenegro defender Miodrag Dzudovic during a 2-2 draw between the countries in qualifying for Euro 2012.
The Manchester United striker was subsequently banned for the first two matches of Euro 2012, against France and Sweden, having had an initial three-match suspension reduced.
Hodgson admits that Montenegro may try to provoke Rooney in the match in Podgorica a week on Tuesday, but he believes his players can be trusted not to lose their heads.
Asked if Montenegro might attempt to wind Rooney up, Hodgson replied: “You might be right, but they are the type of things players need to come to terms with and be prepared for.
“All the players will be made aware that we are playing away against an important rival for the top spot in the group.
“They have to be ready to play the game, tactically, technically and mentally.”
Hodgson added: “Wayne doesn't seem to have been affected in any game we have played by opponents.
“His disciplinary record is good with us and he has not let me down, and I've got no reason to doubt him.
“Wayne made a mistake, he has held his hand up and publicly admitted it was a mistake what he did. He paid a high price for it because he missed two Euro 2012 games.
“He won't need me to remind him because it will be fresh in his memory, because you don't forget being sent off.”
Hodgson revealed that he has spoken to Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson regarding the fitness of defender Rio Ferdinand, who has been called up by Hodgson for the first time.
Ferguson initially expressed surprise at the 34-year-old's recall, sparking speculation he could be set to withdraw from the squad, but Hodgson says United have been given assurances that Ferdinand will be handled with care.
“I have spoken to Sir Alex (about Ferdinand) but I'm not going to go into detail about conversations I've had with other managers,” Hodgson said.
“Whenever players come to join us, we always research what their routines are with their club sides, what they are used to doing two days after a match, for example, or the day before a game.
“It gives us a pretty good idea of what needs to be done. I think it is very important. I regard myself as a custodian of these players.
“We try to do a good job, try and make sure we look after them properly and hopefully send them back in a good condition.”
Hodgson is believed to be considering resting Ferdinand for England's first qualifying match, away to minnows San Marino on Friday, in order to keep him fresh for the vital match in Montenegro the following Tuesday.
The England manager also admitted he could elect to omit Jack Wilshere from his squad for the friendly away to Brazil in June if he feels it is in the Arsenal midfielder's best interests.
Wilshere is currently sidelined with an ankle problem, having missed the whole of last season with an unrelated ankle injury.
“Who knows what the situation will be in the summer with players but when it comes to the friendlies I'm much more prepared to take in the wishes of clubs and to even give chances to other players,” Hodgson said.
“If, for example, it was suggested Wilshere would be ill-advised to travel to Brazil, I would take that on board when the situation arises. But I've got no reason to believe that at the moment.” – Sapa-AFP