Wayne Rooney: Superstar's Return Will Heavily Impact English Lineup vs Ukraine

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2012

KRAKOW, POLAND - JUNE 08:  Wayne Rooney during an England training session ahead of UEFA Euro 2012 on June 8, 2012 in Krakow, Poland.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Roy Hodgson opted to compensate for superstar Wayne Rooney's absence against France with a trio of youngsters the Manchester United star knows quite well.

Rooney's teammates at Old Trafford, Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young, started for the Three Lions against Les Bleus with Welbeck up top and Young, who typically stars out of the wing for the Red Devils, playing directly behind his younger club and international teammate in the middle.

Hodgson also opted to start 18-year-old Arsenal star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in addition to James Milner, Scott Parker and captain Steven Gerrard in the midfield.

Danny Welbeck
Danny WelbeckIan Walton/Getty Images

It was an interesting mix, but one that allowed Hodgson's men to focus on keeping the speedy French counter attack in check while also allowing for a counter attack of it's own should the opportunity present itself.

England only got five shots off, with only one being on net, but defender Joleon Lescott headed that opportunity home on a brilliant service from Gerrard.

All in all, the effort was exactly what the Three Lions wanted in their opening game given the players available.

Rooney will have to sit in the second match of the Euro, a showdown with Sweden on June 15th, but he will return for the final group match against co-host country Ukraine on the 19th.

That match could ultimately be a deciding factor in whether or not England will advance to the knockout stage of the tournament.

Rooney lived and died with every ball during England's 1-1 draw with France while on the bench.
Rooney lived and died with every ball during England's 1-1 draw with France while on the bench.Scott Heavey/Getty Images

And if Rooney is re-inserted to the starting 11 it will make a huge difference. Things could obviously change with the outcome of the Sweden game, but should Rooney start he'd likely be teamed up with Welbeck in a similar fashion to United's attack. Should Young continue to perform, he'll likely shift back outside giving the Three Lions three United stars to count on in the attacking third.

There is no substitute for the familiarity these three players already have with one another, especially considering Hodgson's late appointment as coach.

England will certainly be looking for a win against Ukraine and having Rooney back gives them a huge advantage they've yet to play with in this competition.

The dynamic goal-scorer changes everything for this team simply from a lineup standpoint. Should he be on form, that is another story entirely.