Wayne Rooney needs to buckle down and perform as a striker if he is to earn England’s cap record, says current holder Peter Shilton.
The former England goalkeeper, who won 125 caps in his career, repeated his belief that the captain – capped 116 times – should have retired from international duty after Euro 2016.
Those comments saw Shilton criticised by Jamie Carragher, but the 67-year-old stands by his view and does not think Rooney has been close to his peak form for at least a year.
He told Omnisport: “I have always been a massive Wayne Rooney fan. He has always been a street-fighter, he’s given 100 per cent, he would get in the box and would score goals – I always rated him very highly.
“I don’t think he is the same sort of player now. But I’ve got to say, If he actually plays the way we know Wayne Rooney plays and he surpasses my record I will be the first one to shake his hand, pat him on the back and say ‘well done’ because for a striker that is fantastic.
“But I don’t think he has done that in the last year or so. In the Euros he was captain, we lost to Iceland – I didn’t see him in the game, I didn’t see any leadership.
“I’ve not seen the Wayne Rooney I know for a year as a striker. He now wants to play in midfield – if he was a midfield player he would have played there.
“I thought after the last Euros – because I think a new manager has got to build two years for the next World Cup – you have got to have a team.
“Wayne Rooney, if he is selected, which Sam Allardyce did do, has got to play so many games in a short space of time to win the World Cup and he will be 32 then, so I think it would have been the right time for him to retire after the Euros – that would be my opinion and that is what I said.”
Shilton thinks Rooney’s form for Manchester United will be the deciding factor over whether he surpasses his own cap tally to reach that record as well as the country’s goalscoring mark.
“He says he wants to retire after the next World Cup – to me that is his management company putting a lot of propaganda out,” added Shilton.
“It’s about what he does on the pitch and now he has obviously been dropped by Man United.
“I hope he gets back but he’s got to play a striker and he has got to score goals. If he does that, he will retain his international place. If he doesn’t, he won’t beat my record.”