Football: Captain Rooney could feel armband burden, says Hodgson

LONDON (REUTERS) - England football manager Roy Hodgson hopes captain Wayne Rooney does not become weighed down by the responsibility of wearing the armband, but admits the pressure of the job could affect his performances.

The 29-year-old striker, who is expected to win his 100th cap against Slovenia next Saturday, replaced Steven Gerrard as skipper in August after the Liverpool midfielder retired from international duty following England's poor World Cup showing.

Rooney has made a promising start in the job with England winning their first three Euro 2016 qualifying matches to top Group E by three points from Slovenia, but Hodgson warned it is too early to judge him as captain.

"I worry that the responsibility is going to weigh him down," he told reporters. "We do all we can, myself and the coaching staff, to ensure that won't happen with us.

"But it is all very well telling someone to leave your problems behind and don't worry about them, to get on with your life; it is easy to say, but very hard to do sometimes.

Rooney, who is closing in on Peter Shilton's record of 125 England appearances, was also handed the captaincy at Manchester United following Louis van Gaal's arrival as manager and Hodgson is aware of the difficulties the striker faces as he tries to juggle the two roles.

"At the moment I think he's coping with it well but we'll have to keep an eye on the situation, as will Louis, to make sure it doesn't weigh him down," he said.

"I remember making the point fairly recently that he's really taken on this job as captain with enormous seriousness.

"He's studied and talked a lot with Steven Gerrard. He spends a lot of time with the younger players.

"Obviously, with me he's very good. If there's anything he thinks I should be made aware of, he makes me aware of it."

Rooney is six goals behind Bobby Charlton's England record of 49, but beating that mark is not top of the striker's agenda according to Hodgson.

"I'm not certain Wayne Rooney is a person who goes to bed at night dreaming of a record," he said. "I believe he just wants to keep playing and do the best job he can for England for as long as possible."