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Rooney the man to lead England: Cleverley

Tom Cleverley has backed Wayne Rooney's England captaincy claims.

Rooney skippered his country in a competitive game for the first time in Friday's 5-0 win over San Marino but, with Steven Gerrard returning for tomorrow's encounter with Poland, he'll be back among the foot soldiers in Warsaw.

Manager Roy Hodgson does view the Manchester United man as a leader in waiting.

And Cleverley endorses that view, feeling his Red Devils team-mate has all the right attributes, even the ability to deliver Roy Keane-style rebukes.

"When you want to win badly you'll do anything to achieve it," said Cleverley.

"If people need telling, even in training, Wazza's not afraid to do it, or if I'm on his team and we're not winning he'll let me know."

Cleverley and Rooney are part of a strong United connection with England just now, with Michael Carrick and Danny Welbeck in the squad and Phil Jones and Chris Smalling only missing through injury.

The connection between Welbeck and Cleverley is particularly strong, given the amount of time the pair spent in the Red Devils' academy.

"We've known each other for many years now," said the midfielder.


"I've been at the club since I was 11. He's been there since he was nine, so we've built up a relationship over the years, on and off the pitch.

"I feel comfortable playing with him."

The future certainly looks bright for the duo, even though neither player can take their place in tomorrow's starting line-up for granted.

Indeed, Cleverley has still only made 21 senior appearances for the Red Devils and some critics look at his off-field endorsements and believe he is moving too quickly.

It is a suggestion he bristles at.

"I don't want to sit here and say I am completely level-headed but it does annoy me a bit when people say I am getting ahead of myself," he said.

"I have got my feet on the floor and have already tried to stay grounded.

"I got a day off on Saturday and went back to my mum's in Bradford. She would slap me down if it was needed. I don't know if I would ever say I have made it.

"Careers can be judged on appearances and titles, and I have not got many of either so there is a long way to go."

Chelsea duo Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand were not due to make the trip to Poland today after being ruled out with a calf injury and viral infection respectively.

Arsenal full-back Carl Jenkinson trained with the senior squad for the first time yesterday but it was purely to further his experience.