Gary Lim: Step aside, Rooney
With so many ahead of him, Hodgson cannot start Rooney
ENGLAND v HOLLAND
(Tomorrow, 2.55am, Singtel TV Ch 109 - Eleven)
You can almost imagine Roy Hodgson banging the table as he tried to make his point.
"Wayne (Rooney), I repeat, is our captain," he said, in the latest indication that England's all-time top-scorer will lead his country's attack once he returns from injury.
The England manager was all too eager to rubbish suggestions that Rooney's place is in doubt, just because others have thrived in his absence during the lead-up to Euro 2016.
But his fierce loyalty to his captain loses momentum and support by the week.
Every goal Harry Kane or Jamie Vardy scores for Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City respectively, every additional game Daniel Sturridge clocks for the Reds, and every Man-of-the-Match performance racked up by Spurs' Dele Alli and Everton's Ross Barkley - heaps pressure on Hodgson.
Crucially, each impressive England display by any one of them makes Rooney look like a relic.
Last Saturday, the Three Lions stormed back from two goals down to stun world champions Germany 3-2 in Berlin, in perhaps their best performance of Hodgson's reign.
The new generation has stepped forward and they are threatening to leave the 30-year-old behind.
Even before his injury - he hasn't played since suffering a knee injury last month but could resume club training this week - the Manchester United striker's form was poor.
He no longer belongs to England's top tier of attackers.
He is generally deemed too slow and ponderous these days to spearhead England's attack.
His return of seven league goals is obscured by the exploits of Premier League hotshots Kane (21) and Vardy (19).
In the No. 10 role that Rooney is likelier to be eyeing, Alli, the Man of the Match against Germany, has blossomed beyond expectations.
The Alli-Kane partnership - the midfielder has set up seven goals for Kane at Spurs - has generated the most assists by one player to another in the Premiership.
Alli himself has netted seven goals.
Rooney faces a challenge to regain his spot and also needs to stave off young gun Barkley, who is expected to start against Holland tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
The brilliance of the Everton player, who has eight Premiership goals, has not gone unnoticed, and Hodgson is believed to have been impressed by his improved match maturity.
This leaves Rooney to battle for one of the two remaining starting wide roles, a fight he doesn't have a good chance of winning.
Danny Welbeck has long been a favourite of Hodgson, while Sturridge, Vardy, Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott have also staked their claims.
Hodgson's staunch backing of Rooney is not without merit, though.
The striker has been to three World Cups and two European Championships.
He is the country's record goal-scorer with 51 goals in 109 international caps, and the fourth most-capped player.
For a player who has contributed significantly to England's cause since Euro 2004 in Portugal "to be jettisoned in some way" is a thought Hodgson just cannot bear entertaining.
Clearly, he thinks the experienced Rooney still has much to offer in a major tournament.
Almost no one will argue that he deserves to be part of the squad.
But his days as an automatic starter can no longer be justified.
Hodgson can't allow sentiment to cloud his judgment.