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Monday October 2, 2006 MYT 12:00:00 AM
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LONDON: Wayne Rooney has been guaranteed a place in the England side under new manager Steve McClaren despite criticism of his recent performances.
Rooney missed the last two England matches through suspension after being sent off against Portugal at the World Cup. He has failed to score a competitive goal for his country in more than two years and has not found the net for his club since the opening day of the season.
The 21-year-old will play against Macedonia in a Group E Euro 2008 qualifer next weekend, however.
“Players have to be playing well and have to be in form but Wayne Rooney is a world-class player and can make the difference at any given moment. He’s in my team,” McClaren told reporters.
“Over the last six months, he hasn’t got into any rhythm but before that everyone was raving about him.
“He hasn’t got into a rhythm because of injury and the bans he’s received but he’s a world-class player and he’ll get that form back with games. I can’t wait for him to join up and to work with him for 10 days. He will be an asset for us.”
Rooney’s temperament remains a concern for England following his red card in Germany and also in a pre-season tournament in Holland for Manchester United.
But McClaren is reluctant to change his game in any way and believes the goals will start to come when he is used in his correct position as a second striker behind Peter Crouch.
“We need to get Wayne Rooney into positions where he can score more goals and create more and get better service into the final third,” McClaren said.
“I think he’s most effective where he is at the moment, behind the striker, linking the play. If you want to win football matches you have to get your best players in the best positions.”
Rooney’s inclusion in England’s squad is no surprise and nor was the continued omission of David Beckham despite an injury to right-sided midfielder Aaron Lennon.
“Along with Lennon, we have Shaun Wright-Phillips ... and Jermaine Pennant is also knocking on the door very much at the moment.
“He is not included in this squad but he is doing very well at Liverpool and he’s not beyond my thoughts. I see in Lennon, Wright-Phillips and Pennant three young players who I want to keep involved and keep around the squad.”
McClaren’s only surprise inclusion is Newcastle midfielder Scott Parker, who has only two caps for his country and has not played for England since 2004.
“He’s a player I’ve always admired. With Owen Hargreaves injured, he’s possibly as close as you’ll get to that type of player in the English game. I’m very impressed with his attitude, he’s a team player, he’s a winner,” McClaren said. – Reuters
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