Mata and Herrera defend "world class" Rooney

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Mata a big admirer of Rooney
Mata a big admirer of Rooney

Juan Mata and Ander Herrera have insisted England would be crazy to drop record scorer Wayne Rooney from their side at Euro 2016.

Rooney may not start as England's lead striker in France this summer, with Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge all moving ahead of him in the race to be the lead marksman in Roy Hodgson's side.

Yet Mata and Herrera have both insisted England would be crazy to jettison Rooney, who is expected to be handed a more reserved attacking midfield role at Euro 2016.

“Wayne does not have anything to prove. He is a great player and will always be a great player," said Mata.

"He can play as a striker, a winger and a midfielder as he has shown in the last few weeks.

“I would imagine that Roy Hodgson is very happy with the positions that Wayne can play in. Also with the experience he can bring to the dressing room.

“Wayne is important for us no matter which position he plays in.”

Herrera went on to suggest Rooney is still a top level performer, even if he is no longer the dynamic frontman he was for most of his career.

“He is a world class player. He is not selfish either in the team or in the dressing room," stated Herrera. 

“He is a very good captain. Sometimes big players, world class players, can be selfish. Wayne is not. That is very important.

“England have a chance in the Euros. They are a very young team, a very quick team - but you also need players like Wayne or Michael Carrick. They are very important for the balance. It gives you a chance.

“I know for us Marcus (Rashford) and Anthony (Martial) are quicker, but we know the quality of Wayne."