Rooney ‘all-time great’ – Baines

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Published: Thursday 13th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Wayne Rooney will go down as one of England’s all-time greats, in the opinion of Leighton Baines.

The 29-year-old will join an illustrious group of players to have represented the Three Lions on 100-or-more occasions should he face Slovenia in Saturday’s Euro 2016 qualifier.

Rooney will become the ninth player to achieve the feat and, given his age, Peter Shilton’s record 125-cap haul does not look beyond reach.

The England captain certainly looks set to break the scoring record as he is already just six goals shy of Sir Bobby Charlton’s record tally of 49.

That success will ensure Rooney’s place in the record books and left-back Baines believes he deserves to be bracketed alongside his country’s greatest players.

“He’s going to go down as one of the all-time greats for England,” the Everton and England full-back said.

“If Wayne can keep fit, keep playing, he’s going to break more records. Sometimes it’s not until later on that people get the credit they deserve.

“Wayne has been at the forefront of everything England have done since his involvement in the squads and has carried a lot of pressure.

“Everyone will look back when he’s finished and has broken all the records and will acknowledge he has been one of the all-time greats for England. He doesn’t seem to change.”

Rooney has been in the public consciousness ever since he was 16, when his moment of magic secured Everton victory against Arsenal in 2002.

It did not take the forward long to move onto Manchester United, but the Goodison Park faithful now have a similar home-grown talent in the form of Ross Barkley.

“We see it now at club level, he has a real influence at Everton,” Baines said of the 20-year-old. “He’s got tremendous ability.

“I think Ross is still at a development stage. He’s really keen to improve, he’s looking to see what others are doing and add to his game. That’s half the battle.

“He’s looking around and looking to improve all the time. The senior lads here and at Everton we’ll give little bits of advice when needed. He’s part of a group at England of exciting young players.”

Those players have helped England move on from their embarrassing trip to Brazil, with Roy Hodgson’s men having won all four matches since their World Cup exit.

The Three Lions defence came under particular scrutiny in the summer, but have responded fantastically and can make it a record-equalling six straight clean sheet against Slovenia.

“We’ve spoken about it, we’re working on it as a team and in individual groups improving in all areas, really,” Baines said.

“That’s one of the areas where we’ve seen significant improvements. Clean sheets give you an opportunity to win games. We’ll continue to work on. We want to score a few goals, too.”

England’s strength in depth at full-back certainly seems to be helping England, with Baines joined in this squad by fellow left-backs Luke Shaw and Kieran Gibbs.

Their rise has helped make up for Ashley Cole’s international retirement, while the likes of Ryan Bertrand and Danny Rose are pushing for a chance.

“Competition-wise, it’s strong as it’s ever been,” Baines said. “Myself, Luke and Kieran in the squad now.

“Danny was in the squad not too long ago. There’s a lot of really good players fighting for one position. And it’s the same at right-back with Nathaniel (Clyne) and Calum (Chambers) both doing really well.

“Jonno (Glen Johnson) has been great for England over the years and is still a top player so there is a lot of competition and I would imagine nice problems for the manager.”

Published: Thursday 13th November 2014 by The News Editor

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