Sunday 17 December 2017

Former Man United star urges Jose Mourinho to keep picking Wayne Rooney and play him alongside Marcus Rashford

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford (center) celebrates with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford (center) celebrates with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney

Jack Austin

Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville believes Wayne Rooney should retain his starting role for the clash with Leicester on Saturday, and it should be alongside Marcus Rashford.

Neville jumped to the defence of his former teammate as Rooney endured yet another frustrating evening during the 3-1 victory over Northampton in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night.

The win ended a run of three consecutive defeats but question marks still remain about Rooney, who was singled out for a particularly poor performance during Sunday’s loss to Watford.

When asked before the game on Wednesday what he was expecting from Rooney, manager Jose Mourinho simply replied ‘goals’, with the England captain only managing to find the net once so far this season, despite only being four away from becoming the club’s highest ever goalscorer.

However, Neville insists Rooney must be in Mourinho’s starting XI when the champions come to Old Trafford and that the confusion over what is his best position is affecting his performances.

Rooney started the game as the lone striker but was moved to the right once Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were introduced in the second half.

“He will start, for me, on Saturday. He is still an important player in this team,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“You can see with his performance that he is not playing at the top level, his game isn't flowing and things aren't coming easily to him but it was important for him to get out there and play another 90 minutes.”

“The worry is that he ended up on the right wing again and continually changing positions will eventually affect him.

“He wants to be a centre forward or he wants to be a central midfield player but he doesn't want to be stuck on the right wing.

“At the moment that is having a massive effect on his performance.”

Neville is also adamant that Rashford must become a permanent fixture in Mourinho’s team after scoring his third United goal of the season at Sixfields.

“Rashford has to start against Leicester,” he added. “This kid is special and he has to play for me.

“I think Zlatan is helping him a lot. He has come in here and he's getting quicker and stronger.”

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