Steven Gerrard insists Wayne Rooney should still be the go-to man for England at Euro 2016 after he launched a staunch defence of the Manchester United striker’s form this season.
Rooney, who took over as England skipper when Gerrard retired from international duty in 2014, became his country’s all-time leading goalscorer in September but his recent club form has drawn criticism.
While other English stars have been scoring for fun Rooney has only managed two goals in 15 Premier League appearances this term, but Gerrard feels Rooney offers more.
“Jamie Vardy is doing well, Harry Kane is doing well but in a big game who is England’s best chance of scoring?” Gerrard told the Daily Mail.
“Does anyone think it is not Wayne Rooney in this room? If there is a penalty in the last 10 minutes to progress out of a group or into a quarter-final who would you want to take it?
“Who does everyone in the dressing room at Manchester United and England look to for inspiration? Who are they all hiding behind pressure wise when it isn’t going well? Wayne Rooney does more than just score goals, he has an impact on the whole team and squad.”
Rooney’s struggles have been highlighted with United currently on an eight-match winless slump, which has seen them dumped out of the Champions League and slide out of the top four.
Gerrard feels it is only a matter of time before Rooney turns things around and believes fans should support him as he tries to do so.
He added: “He has said he is not in the best form of his life but people need to support him and help get into better form for England and United. The easiest thing to do is point fingers and say ‘get him out’ – I’ve been there when you are under a bit of pressure and everyone is having a go.
“No one wants to turn that round more than you do but you need help. I’m not saying nobody should criticise him, but let’s analyse it properly. He hasn’t lost ability. And he’s probably the only person capable or proven to get the goals you need to progress in a tournament.”