London - Two of England’s greatest goalscorers, Sir Bobby Charlton and Alan Shearer, backed Wayne Rooney to shine at the World Cup.
Rooney, who has failed to score in the last two tournaments in Germany and South Africa, is coming under pressure for his place in Brazil after another lacklustre showing against Peru last week.
But as England prepare to face Ecuador on Thursday night, Charlton thinks that the Manchester United striker is the only truly world-class player in Roy Hodgson’s squad.
“Wayne Rooney will have to play,” Charlton said. “He’s got that something extra. He will thrive on a successful performance in the World Cup.
“Wayne Rooney is the only one that comes to mind when you think, ‘Where are our class players coming from?’
“In every position there seems to be a little bit of doubt in my mind, apart from Wayne.
“I tell him, ‘If anybody is going to beat my record for the number of goals scored, it had better be you, so don’t let me down’, and he said ‘Okay’.”
Shearer, who scored 30 goals for England and won the Golden Boot at Euro 96, claims that Rooney can finish as the World Cup’s top scorer if Hodgson gives him a vote of confidence now.
“Three weeks before Euro 96, Terry (Venables) said to me, ‘Whatever happens between now and the first game, you’re going to start’,” the former Newcastle striker said.
“That gave me great confidence. I think Roy Hodgson will say the same to Rooney. I finished the tournament as top scorer and Wayne can do the same.
“I don’t think Wayne Rooney will want it on his record that he’s been to three World Cups and not scored in any.
“He should start against Italy (in the first group game on June14) but then it’s whether he performs or not because we have other players now who can produce moments of magic.
“Daniel Sturridge can score as he showed the other night. The pressure is on Rooney like there is on any other player.
“He’s one of the biggest names in the world so everyone wants to talk about him.”