Everton defender Phil Jagielka has warned England team-mate Wayne Rooney to expect a hostile reception when the Manchester United striker returns to his former club on Saturday.
Jagielka played alongside Rooney as England secured victories over Bulgaria and Switzerland to kick off their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign in fine style, but the pair will be in direct opposition when United face Everton at Goodison Park this weekend.
Rooney is always in the spotlight when he plays against Everton after angering his old club’s fans by joining United in 2004, but he is likely to get even more abuse than usual following the allegations surrounding his private life.
The United star is reportedly facing a fight to save his marriage after newspaper reports that he slept with prostitutes while his wife Coleen was pregnant.
Rooney didn’t seen overly troubled by the scandal as he scored his first international goal for 12 months against Switzerland, but Jagielka believes he might find it harder to cope with the inevitable taunts from both fans and players at Goodison.
Jagielka even hinted that he will give Rooney some flack himself.
“It should be amusing. On Merseyside Wayne always gets a little bit of stick and I’ll be giving him a little bit as well if he plays on Saturday,” Jagielka said.
“I’ve spoken to him about it. All the boys in the England squad know who is playing who.
“It is always interesting playing against people you’ve just been away with in the week.
“No doubt I’ll give him a bit of banter if he plays. There is a good chance he will get slaughtered. He normally gets quite a bit of stick anyway. I can’t see that changing come Saturday.”
Rooney’s next three games are against Everton, Rangers and Liverpool, a trio of clubs who are unlikely to have a sympathetic response to the recent headlines he has had to confront.
Jagielka admitted: “I am sure Wayne can deal with it. He is a tough lad and he will let his football do the talking.
“I will enjoy the battle against him. I like playing against good players and Wayne is definitely a good player.
“It is always a tough battle and I’ve always got to keep concentrated when I play against him.”
Jagielka was reluctant to comment on how Rooney has reacted while on England duty to personal allegations against him, although he admired the way he was able to concentrate on his football and help put England in charge of their qualifying group.
Jagielka said: “It’s not really for me to comment on what Wayne has been like this week.
“I’m not exactly best of friends with Wayne so I’ve not been hanging around with him that much.
“He seems his normal self but I haven’t got an in-depth sort of view of how he has been feeling.
“It was always going to be hard night for Wayne but he did what he is put in the team for.
“He created some good chances as well as scoring when he was the right man at the right time.”
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