• United striker was sent off in Euro 2012 qualifier
• Roy Hodgson says he is not concerned about a repeat
Wayne Rooney will be thrust back into the eye of the storm when England play Montenegro a week on Tuesday, one and a half years after he was sent off in Podgorica for an unprovoked, wild and aggressive swipe at Miodrag Dzudovic. Roy Hodgson claims he has no concerns about the striker's temperament ahead of another important World Cup qualifier, but experience shows that, in the heat of battle, Rooney can, and often does, rise to the bait.
Rooney paid for his petulance with a suspension that ruled him out of two matches at Euro 2012 and, despite a goal against Ukraine in Donetsk, he was a shadow of the player who scored 35 times for Manchester United that season. The contrast in Rooney's club and international form since 2004 has been stark, to say the least, but redemption in the former Yugoslav state next week would go some way to easing a turbulent period that has included an omission from the United side for their biggest game of the campaign and speculation linking him with a move away from Old Trafford.
That red card during England's 2-2 draw in October 2011 followed the arrest of Rooney's father in a probe into alleged betting irregularities, for which he was eventually cleared. With hindsight, Rooney was in no fit mental state to face such a fierce and hostile atmosphere, Yet despite the bitter blow of being left on the bench against Real Madrid in United's recent Champions League tie, Hodgson – who insisted "that's got nothing to do with me" – is unconcerned that history may repeat itself.
"Wayne made a mistake, held his hand up and publicly admitted it was a mistake. He paid a high price for it because he missed two of the opening games in the European Championship," said the England manager.
"He won't need me to tell him or remind him – it will be fresh in his memory, but all I can repeat is that his disciplinary record with us is very good and he certainly hasn't let me down when he's played so I've got no reason to doubt him.
"I think it will be intimidating, a lot of those former Yugoslav countries are very passionate. They have fantastic support and they let you know that you are the away team. But you've got to learn to deal with those things if we are ever going to do anything worthwhile at international level, we've got to be capable of playing in atmospheres which are not in our favour.
"I have no reason to think there will be problems there, the only thing you can accuse the Montenegrins of is fervently supporting their team, but that isn't a crime. We'll talk about it, we'll be ready for it and it will be part of our preparations to make certain that, mentally, we've got some idea of what we're going into."
England trail Montenegro by two points in Group H but must first travel to San Marino on Friday before the game in Podgorica, while Montenegro play Moldova. All the focus will be on Rio Ferdinand's return to international action but the home supporters will not have forgotten Rooney's reckless kick at Dzudovic. It came when England were winning and put them under intense pressure for the remaining 20 minutes of the match, eventually leading to an equaliser in injury time.
A point was enough to secure qualification for last year's European Championship, but it cannot be denied that Rooney's red mist put England's chances of advancing to Poland and Ukraine in serious jeopardy and Montenegro's players, as well as the crowd, will certainly now try to provoke him at every opportunity.
"He doesn't seem to me to have been affected in any game we've played by opponents," said Hodgson. "They are the type of things that players need to come to terms with and be prepared for. All the players will be made aware that we're playing away from home and we're playing against a very important rival for the top spot. They'll have to be ready to play the game tactically, technically and mentally. From the side I don't know if you see it that much. If it is happening you probably need to be on the field of play to be aware of it, because it's not something people shout over loudspeakers."
Hodgson insisted the Montenegro game would not be "decisive", with so many matches remaining. England still have to play Ukraine in Kiev, while Montenegro and Poland are yet to come to Wembley.
"We've said all along that it's not an easy group, it's a group with good quality international teams, but I'm fortunate because I also think I'm managing a good quality international team, so it's up to us to get out on the field of play and show that," he added.
Rooney said last October: "I won't be looking for revenge against Montenegro, definitely not." Perhaps not, but with 11 players and a whole stadium preparing to taunt him with insults, jibes and petty fouls, he had better mean it.