Lineker - Rooney is no longer crucial to England

Rooney is England's record goal scorer
Rooney is England's record goal scorer

Former England captain Gary Lineker has suggested Wayne Rooney is no longer crucial to his national team ahead of the Euro 2016 finals in France.

Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy all appear to be ahead of Rooney in the race to secure a central striking role in Roy Hodgson’s England line-up this summer, with Lineker backing up the belief that the Manchester United star is not assured of a starting spot.

“I don’t think he is crucial now,” says Lineker, in quotes appearing on the Daily Mirror website.

“I don’t want that to be taken in the wrong way, but I think there are all sorts of options up front for Roy now.

“He has got Harry Kane — it would be hard not to pick Harry, he is probably the best centre forward we have got right now. And then alongside that you have got Vardy, who has been flying, you have got Raheem Sterling. Sturridge never seems to keep himself fit, but if he did he would be another option.

“So all of a sudden we have got different options up front and we are not so dependent on Wayne.

“Obviously we would like him to be fit and part of the squad but it is not like before when he has been injured and it was the end of the world. It’s a far cry from that now.”

Lineker has long been a big admirer of Rooney and fronted a documentary with the Liverpool-born forward for the BBC last year, yet these comments add to the suspicion that the United forward will not be central to England’s plans moving forward.

The Match of the Day host went on to suggest England have the nucleus of a good side to work with this summer, as he suggested they could exceed expectations and make progress to the later stages of the competition.

“I am getting more optimistic because I have not seen us have a chance in the last few tournaments because we saw the golden generation never quite live up to expectation and fade off and become too old and behind that we never had anything behind that apart from Wayne,” he added.

"In his prime, he was our only genuine world class player. Now I can see a group of youngsters coming through, all different ages, that actually look like they have the potential to go on and become world beaters.

"Right through the side there are players — decent full-backs, John Stones coming through, Delle Ali looks fantastic, Dier at Tottenham as well and Kane. You have a big list of these young and talented players.

“It is really encouraging. For the first time in at least a decade we have got the makings of a side going forward.”