Wayne Rooney says playing for a northern club initially hindered Dominic Calvert Lewin’s bid to get an opportunity at international level with England.
The Everton striker has made a sensational start to the season. And the 23-year-old finally got the call from England boss Gareth Southgate earlier this month.
But Rooney believes Calvert-Lewin would have been picked earlier had he played for one of the big teams in the south.
And to highlight the point, England’s record goalscorer used Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham as an example.
Abraham earned his first England cap in 2017 after impressing on loan at Swansea.
The Stamford Bridge striker also featured in Southgate’s England squad in October 2019.
Writing in his Sunday Times column, Rooney said: “For England, he [Calvert-Lewin] can become an important member of the squad and it’s great seeing him finally recognised at international level.
“I’ve always thought young lads from the north have to work harder to get their England opportunities than boys from the big southern clubs.
“I felt Calvert-Lewin deserved his chance before Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham.”
Calvert-Lewin started to hit the goal trail last season, scoring 15 times.
In the current campaign, he’s the Premier League’s joint-top scorer with seven from his opening five games. That included an equaliser in the 2-2 derby draw with Liverpool last weekend.
And he celebrated his call-up for England by scoring on his debut. He headed home a 26th-minute cross in their 3-0 win over Wales.
Rooney says Calvert-Lewin has ‘everything’
Rooney is delighted to see the Sheffield-born striker flourish. And it comes as no surprise. The now Derby skipper saw Calvert-Lewin close up when returning for a second spell at Goodison in 2017/18.
“Dominic always had it in him and the big question mark was whether he could score consistently enough, but now that is coming through game time,” said Rooney.
“When I returned to Everton he was entering his second season with the club. I looked at him in training and thought ‘he has everything’.
“He was quick, strong, good in the air.
“His only downfall was he was snatching at chances. But he was already working hard to correct that and Duncan Ferguson deserves a lot of credit because Duncan would always stay with him after training and give him finishing drills.”