England captain Gerrard says Rooney is not past his prime
MAY 30, 2014 5:09a ET
England captain Steven Gerrard has dismissed comments by Paul Scholes that Wayne Rooney is past his best.
Scholes wrote in a blog that his former Manchester United and England team-mate has been in decline in the past two seasons.
Scholes wrote: "Wayne's peak may have been a lot younger than we'd expect of footballers traditionally.
"Age 28 or 29 has been the normal peak. With Wayne, it could have been when he scored 27 league goals in 2011-2012 when he was 26."
Gerrard, speaking ahead of England's friendly with Peru on Friday night, jumped to the defence of Rooney.
"Paul Scholes is wrong," Gerrard said. "I think he's (Rooney) been Manchester United's best player at home and in Europe.
"He's been in terrific form. I can only judge from my opinion but from what I've seen from his performances in the United team, his form has been really positive."
Scholes pointed out Rooney's poor record at major tournaments - the United striker failed to score in eight World Cup appearances in South Africa and Germany.
Rooney carried injuries into both of the last two World Cups, and his determination to go to Brazil in top condition could be seen in Portugal where, in his week off, he trained with two fitness coaches.
Gerrard thinks that kind of commitment should be saluted.
"He's worked hard this week and he decided to do his own week of extra training," Gerrard said.
"He seems in an awful better frame of mind going into this tournament than he's had going into previous tournaments when he's had injuries on his mind in the past. I'm excited about where Wayne Rooney is at."
England boss Roy Hodgson was equally dismissive of Scholes' comments.
"I believe in Wayne Rooney," Hodgson said. "He's still a young man and of course I don't think he's past his best.
"I've selected him in a 23-man squad that I'm very proud of. The real opinions that are going to count are from the staff and the players.
"They are the ones we can control. We can't control opinions from the outside but they are the opinions that matter, ours. Hopefully we will get our decisions right and have a good tournament."
Scholes also suggested that Hodgson would not be brave enough to drop Rooney if he flops in Brazil, but the former Liverpool boss again disagreed.
"I'd like to think that, having been a manager for a long time, I have the capacity to make the decisions that are necessary," Hodgson said.