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Liverpool legend on why Rooney is 'coming to the end'

Rooney appeared to be in good spirits during training on Wednesday. Credit: PA

Ex-Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson believes Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is already in decline because he broke on to the professional scene so early.

Rooney could return to the United starting XI against Fenerbahce on Thursday night having been used from the bench in his club's previous four games, while England's all-time record scorer also lost his place in the national team's line-up in Slovenia last week.

This week marks the 14th anniversary of Rooney's first top-flight goal against Arsenal but, ahead of his 31st birthday on Monday, the forward is no longer first choice for either club or country.

Lawrenson thinks time has already called caught up with Rooney, citing the career of Michael Owen, who exited the game at 33 having slowed down considerably from the teenage sensation who first emerged at Liverpool.

Lawrenson told Press Association Sport:

Basically, when your legs go, your legs go. He (Rooney) is still a very, very talented player but if you can't get around the pitch you've got to find a position where you want to play.

He'll play lots of games for Manchester United, they're not suddenly going to go, 'Your legs have gone, you're going to sign for someone else'.

But he's had an unbelievable career. Sometimes, it's a bit like Michael Owen. Michael Owen burst on to the scene when he was really young, as did Wayne Rooney, he was 16 when he scored that wonder goal against Arsenal. Maybe that's just your career.

For him, I think the reason why he's coming to the end early is because he was a beast of a man when he was 16, as he is now. That's just the way it is. It's a bit like tennis players, some go from 18 until their 25, some get to their thirties. It's just your career.

– Former Liverpool defender turned pundit Mark Lawrenson


Southgate baffled by Rooney boos

Wayne Rooney produced another underwhelming performance during Saturday's 2-0 win over Malta. Credit: PA

Wayne Rooney deserves better than to be booed by his own supporters, Gareth Southgate insisted after the England captain was singled out for criticism by sections of Wembley during Saturday's 2-0 win over Malta.

I don't understand it [the boos], but that seems to be the landscape. I've got no idea how that's supposed to help him, for sure.

His experience and leadership has been crucial throughout this week. It's fascinating to get an insight into his world over the last 10 days. Every debate seems to focus on him.

The onus on him is enormous and the criticism of him is at times unfair. He ploughs on and captains his country with pride.

– Southgate post-match


Mourinho: Wayne Rooney is 'my man'

Jose Mourinho says Wayne Rooney is 'happy' Credit: PA

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho insists Wayne Rooney remains a big part of his plans and praised the way his side dominated Leicester in their 4-1 win at Old Trafford.

Goals from Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba's first for the club gave the hosts a 4-0 half-time lead before Demarai Gray scored spectacular consolation for the reigning Premier League champions.

Speaking about Rooney, who was dropped to the bench, Mourinho told Sky Sports: "He's a big player for me, a big player for United, a big player for this country.

"He's my man, I trust him completely. He's as happy as I am at this moment and that's the team.

"It was a very good performance. It's obviously a very good result, it's not easy to win against them and even more difficult to win in such a comfortable way."

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