Rooney backed to return for England by Man United teammate Smalling

Rooney backed to return for England by Man United teammate Smalling

The 31-year-old captain of club and country has been left out of the latest international squad

Matthew Brown

Chris Smalling is hoping to see his Manchester United teammate, Wayne Rooney, return to international action in the near future.

The England defender is in contention to face Scotland and France while on international duty over the next week, but compatriot Rooney wasn’t named in Gareth Southgate’s 25-man squad.

England will miss Rooney

Much like Smalling, the United captain has had a frustrating, injury-hit campaign – but his struggles haven’t been helped by some inconsistent displays.

Despite that, Smalling, speaking to Sky Sports, admitted that Rooney’s absence will be a “big miss” but remained hopeful that “he will be back.” England face Gordon Strachan’s Scotland in a World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park on Saturday – the same side Rooney faced in his last international outing, at Wembley in November.

The 27-year-old defender claimed his teammate’s “numbers speak for themselves” and added that “he’s still got a long way to go in his career.”

Of course, Rooney is not only England’s record goalscorer, but United’s too. And even in a disappointing campaign by his standards, the former Everton attacker managed 10 goals and eight assists for Jose Mourinho’s team last term.

Smalling confident of Rooney return

With that in mind, Smalling felt confident that Rooney could still add to his current England tally of 53.

Smalling hinted that the future could bring something new for Rooney, saying that “whenever he makes up his mind what he’s going to do next,” then he would hope his teammate would regain the international shirt and “score some more goals.”

Having made just 15 Premier League starts last season, transfer speculation has linked Rooney with a move away from Old Trafford with Stoke City and Everton said to be among the possible destinations. But Smalling’s future is also uncertain, the defender having been criticised by boss Mourinho at times during the last campaign.

Smalling is one of four United representatives in the England squad, alongside Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford.