Rooney relishing senior role

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Published: Saturday 28th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Wayne Rooney is relishing the role of elder statesman in an evolving and improving England side.

The 29-year-old collected his 102nd cap as he skippered Roy Hodgson’s men to a 4-0 win over Lithuania and move a step closer to qualifying for next summer’s European Championships in France.

Rooney scored his 47th international goal to move just two behind Sir Bobby Charlton’s long-standing record but it was Harry Kane’s 79-second debut goal that stole the headlines.

The Tottenham striker has been in scintillating form and opened his England account with his third touch after replacing Rooney to make his senior bow.

Kane is just one of a number of young, promising players being handed a chance by Hodgson – with Rooney now an old head in the dressing room.

“It is a responsibility I’m enjoying having as team captain,” he said.

“Hopefully with the experience I’ve had I can pass that on to younger players. A lot of people try to help you but it’s best when you learn on your own.

“When you’re a young lad you make mistakes and you have to learn from them which makes you a better player.”

Kane could yet partner Rooney in attack when England face Italy in Turin on Tuesday, with his chances of a first start boosted with Danny Welbeck’s withdrawal through a knee injury.

Rooney revealed he sent Kane on with a simple message on Friday evening and was reminded of his own early England career as he watched the remainder of the contest from the bench.

“It is incredible really,” he said of Kane’s recent progression.

“You can feel the excitement around the country. Before he came on, everybody was wanting him on. He probably didn’t think he’d score so quickly himself so we’re all delighted for him and he’s an exciting player.

“I said to him when I went off ‘go and get yourself a goal’ but I didn’t think he’d get it with a couple of touches.

“It’s fantastic. And even through speaking to him you can see he is a level-headed guy and I’m sure he’s got good people around him and he’ll have the ability to cope with it.

“I think there are things you can say but there are things you learn on your own which I’m sure he will do in the next year or two years. He’s a little bit older than I was and probably a little bit wiser as I was 16 or 17 when I came in. I’m sure he’s got a level head and can cope with it

“There was one stage in the game when it did (remind me of my early career). It was after he scored his goal and ran down the left and took two or three players on. He’ll tell you himself he still has a lot to learn but at the minute he’s scoring goals left, right and centre.

“It’s great for us as a nation to have that excitement around the team and hopefully when he comes in he’ll score goals.”

Scoring goals is something Rooney has made a career out of but the Manchester United captain is still not lingering on the thought of becoming England’s leading marksman.

“There’s no getting away from it,” he added.

“It’s there and it could be on Tuesday or it could be in the summer or after that. If it happens, I’ll speak more when it does, but I’m just looking forward to doing well for the team, to score goals to help the team and progressing.

“I still feel I have a few years left playing for England so I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get three goals in those years. Like my 100th cap it would be great to achieve and then move on from that.

“It would be great if I could get it and push on even further. It’s a great achievement and stood for many years.

“Many players have played for England and tried to reach that record so I’m in a great position at the minute where I can do that. I think the main aim is to try to keep progressing with the team and I hope my goals can do that.”

Published: Saturday 28th March 2015 by The News Editor

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