Steven Gerrard has slammed the critics of England captain Wayne Rooney and feels the striker would not be so mistreated if he played for a different country.
Rooney – England’s skipper and record goalscorer – has been out of action since February 13 with a knee problem and has seen the likes of Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy continue their fine form this season.
Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck were also in the England squad for the recent internationals against Germany and Netherlands, with manager Roy Hodgson facing regular questions over whether he will opt to drop the 30-year-old given his array of attacking options.
Gerrard acknowledged that Rooney has been short of his best form for United this season, but is in no doubt that his status with England should not be questioned.
“I get those who say Wayne has had a dip in form at Manchester United, he’ll be the first to admit that, but he is still a top class international footballer who can be the match-winner for his country in France,” Gerrard wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
“We need him there. I also think there is an issue of respect here. For the last 10 years Wayne has been entertaining England fans – he’s become our greatest goalscorer – and it was not that long ago there were questions about where the next Rooney was coming from. Well, the real one is still here with plenty to offer.
“When talking about world-class players at our disposal, he has been one of the shining lights for years. Now there are those who’d leave him out. Where is the loyalty to one of the greatest players, not just of our generation, but in English history? Why do so many people want to finish him?
“You wouldn’t get this abroad where the greatest servants are adored and urged to keep going as long as possible. Don’t tell me Rooney does not still have a massive role to play on and off the pitch in this England squad.
“Knowing him as I do, he’ll be relishing the challenge of proving he still has what it takes. The best players get inspired rather than intimidated when they’re pushed.
“Jamie Vardy has to be in the squad. He proved himself in the two games, not just with his goals, but his pace is such a major asset. Harry Kane will be there and – as I’ve said – there should be no argument that Rooney should remain as captain.
“For others there is still work to be done. I want to see Daniel Sturridge finish the season injury-free and with plenty of goals.”
LA Galaxy midfielder Gerrard is frustrated that many experienced players are so quickly written off in the modern game.
He continued: “As a country we can’t wait to discard those who have been around for a long time no matter how invaluable their experience. We grow tired and unappreciative of players too quickly.
“We certainly worship our young players when they do well and you only have to hear the calls for Rooney to be left out of the England team to understand why many of us have felt over the years the support is not always there when it is needed most.”