Two-goal Rooney's best 'still to come'

England manager Roy Hodgson believes the Manchester United striker, at 26, has it in him to score plenty more after his pair against San Marino

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 October, 2012, 2:33am


Roy Hodgson believes Wayne Rooney's best is still to come for England after the Manchester United striker moved into fifth place in his country's all-time scoring charts with a double in the 5-0 win over San Marino.

Rooney admitted earlier this week he has rarely managed to reproduce his sparkling club form when on international duty, but he underlined his value to Hodgson's side with a clinical brace in the World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

England laboured to break down the packed San Marino defence for long periods, but stand-in captain Rooney came to the rescue as he lashed in a 35th-minute penalty before producing a fine finish for the decisive third goal in the 69th minute.

Those two strikes, Rooney's 30th and 31st international goals, took him ahead of Alan Shearer, Tom Finney and Nat Lofthouse on England's goalscoring charts and Bobby Charlton's record of 49 looks well within the 26-year-old's sights.

Hodgson is confident Rooney is finally starting to live up to his reputation on the international stage for the first time since his dazzling performances way back at Euro 2004.

"He's only 26, he's still got a lot of years of football left in him. If he continues to play this way there's no question he can score plenty more goals," Hodgson said.

"He has enormous confidence. I thought all the Manchester United players were very good. There was some good interplay between Wayne, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley."

Rooney's double was the perfect way to end a week to remember as he celebrated captaining England for the first time in a competitive international and his wife Coleen revealed she is pregnant with their second child.

"It was a great feeling. I'm really proud, and thankfully we got the victory," Rooney said. "We could have scored a few more, but there were some great saves from the keeper.

"It was difficult out there. We had to move the ball quickly and create that space for ourselves.

"It's going to be a tough game [on Tuesday] in Warsaw. They are a tough counter-attacking team and so now we have to prepare as best we can for Tuesday."

Although Rooney seemed to flourish as captain, Hodgson confirmed Gerrard will regain the armband when he returns from suspension.

"There was never any doubt in my mind he would captain the team well, but at the same time I'm looking forward to having Steven Gerrard available for Poland," Hodgson said.

The only low note for Hodgson was the chest injury suffered by Theo Walcott after a wild first-half challenge from San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini.

Walcott was kept in hospital after scans on the injury and may miss the Poland game, but Hodgson refused to condemn San Marino as a dirty side.

"They will argue that they do their best with their resources," Hodgson said. "I don't think we can accuse them of playing a dirty game. There weren't many bad fouls."