Wayne Rooney explains his views on England's World Cup squad

Wayne Rooney ‘has no worries’ about Harry Maguire, feels Trent Alexander-Arnold defensive fears are ‘exaggerated’ and insists ‘best player’ Phil Foden MUST start as he picks his England World Cup XI

  • Wayne Rooney has revealed his feelings on Gareth Southgate’s England squad
  • The all-time leading England goalscorer has backed Harry Maguire’s inclusion
  • And claimed that furore surrounding Trent Alexander-Arnold is ‘exaggerated’
  • Rooney also explained his belief that Phil Foden is England’s best player

Wayne Rooney has publicly backed Gareth Southgate’s England World Cup squad selections, admitting that he is unconcerned by the inclusion of out-of-form stars Harry Maguire and Trent Alexander-Arnold.  

Rooney, England and Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer, has attempted to calm furore whipped up by some of Southgate’s questionable picks, most notably, Man United captain Maguire and Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold.

England manager Southgate has been criticised for picking players based on past successes rather than current form, while defensive issues have been highlighted as a key problem area.

Wayne Rooney has backed Gareth Southgate’s decision to pick Harry Maguire for England

Rooney named Manchester City winger Phil Foden as England’s best player heading to Qatar

Writing in the Sunday Times, the legendary striker tried to deflect attention away from the ‘exaggerated’ discussions surrounding the England camp:

‘There has been a lot of debate but Trent gives you something different,’ stated Rooney.

Rooney admitted he is unconcerned by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive woes

‘Fears about his defensive vulnerability are exaggerated. Yes, he has been exposed a few times this season, but I think that’s more reflective of Liverpool as a team than him individually

‘As a footballer he’s the best right back England have. 

‘My starting pair would be Stones and Maguire: they give you tournament knowhow.  

‘There has been some debate about him, because he hasn’t been in the Manchester United starting XI, but I don’t have any worries about him in a tournament situation,’ he said.

Maguire has made just four Premier League appearances for Man United this season, starting only three games, with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez’s defensive partnership keeping the 29-year-old on the bench.

While Alexander-Arnold has largely been viewed as non-essential to Southgate’s England plans in the past, having made just 14 appearances for the national team despite winning the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, and League Cup with Liverpool.

Rooney also identified Manchester City attacker Phil Foden as England’s best player heading to Qatar, ranking the 22-year-old above the likes of Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, and Harry Kane.

England manager Gareth Southgate (middle right) has been criticised for picking out-of-form Man United captain Maguire (left)

Alexander-Arnold (middle left) has been largely kept on the sidelines by Southgate

Foden has starred under Pep Guardiola at club level, scoring eight goals across all competitions so far this season. But has failed to replicate his form with England, managing just two goals since making his debut against Iceland in 2020.

Rooney explained why he had picked Foden and how he would use him as a left-winger if he was in the dugout, writing: The way he has been performing over the past couple of years shows he is England’s best player. 

Rooney also revealed who would start in his England XI out of the stars heading to Qatar

‘He creates chances, he scores goals. He hasn’t quite done it for England what he does for City but I think he’s got everything you need and that technically and ability-wise he’s the best player we’ve got.

‘How would Foden operate in my team? With the right winger coming inside, I would keep Foden wide on the left side and get him getting at players, committing players one v one and putting crosses into the box, which he’s so good at,’ he said.


Formation: (4-4-1-1): Pickford; Alexander-Arnold, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Saka/Sterling, Rice, Phillips, Foden; Bellingham, Kane 

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