England players leap to Rooney's defence after Wembley boos

Rooney jeered by England fans
Rooney jeered by England fans

John Stones admitted he was shocked to discover England captain Wayne Rooney was jeered by home fans ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifying victory over Malta.

There was audible derision from some sections of the Wembley crowd when the skipper's name was read out ahead of kick-off and the maligned Manchester United man was also booed after a wayward shot towards the end of an unspectacular 2-0 win over a team ranked 176 in the world.

Rooney has been criticised in recent times for a perceived drop in form which has seen him lose his starting berth at United and move to a deeper midfield role for his country.

He operated there in Sam Allardyce's only game in charge of England in Slovakia last month and retained that position under interim boss Gareth Southgate.

Southgate oversaw victory in his first game at the helm and said afterwards that he did not understand the booing and that he had "no idea" how it would help Rooney turn his form around.

And Stones, who collected his 12th cap in the win, praised Rooney and said England's all-time leading goalscorer always gives his all for the Three Lions.

"I'm a bit shocked that that has happened to be honest," he said when he was made aware of the crowd's reaction to Rooney.

"I didn't realise that had happened. I thought Wayne was brilliant tonight and has been every time he has played for England, he wears his heart on his sleeve, gives 110 per cent, I think you can see that in every performance.

"In my opinion he is always up there, he is always on form, the top players are always going to get the stick that gets piled on them because of the standards they set.

"He has never dropped that once in the training or in the game and I think that is why he has been a top player for so long."

Meanwhile, Rooney's Man Utd team-mate Jesse Lingard insisted the England skipper did not deserve to be chastised by the home supporters. 

"It's a shame and I don't think he deserves that. He's done really well tonight and hopefully he'll get his confidence back now and move on to the next game," said Lingard.

"I think he likes that role a lot. He dictates the play and everything goes through the midfield. I thought Henderson did very well tonight as well. They controlled the game and we got three points."

England boss Gareth Southgate also offered words of comfort for Rooney and praised his performance.

"The criticism of him is at times unfair," he said. "He ploughs on and plays with pride and captains his country with pride.

"I look back to John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole. In their time with England they took an enormous amount of criticism and yet when you look at the number of caps they got they were the guys that kept turning out.

"They were the ones that really put themselves on the line when some other players would not put themselves forward in those moments and withdrew from squads when the going got tough.

"Those guys are the ones that desperately wanted to play for England again and again and put their neck on the block. I think Wayne falls into that category.

"The booing? I don't understand it but that seems to be the landscape and I have no idea how that's expected to help him."