Wayne Rooney believes Harry Maguire and Trent Alexander-Arnold should both start for England at the World Cup.
In a talkSPORT exclusive, the former Manchester United forward opened up on his thoughts ahead of the tournament including his starting eleven, Marcus Rashford’s return to form and how James Maddison can fit into Gareth Southgate’s plans.
Southgate revealed his final 26-man World Cup squad on Thursday and Rooney admitted he was delighted to see Rashford back in the fold.
“It’s great to see him playing with a smile on his face,” said Rooney on the talkSPORT Breakfast.
“I think over the last 18 months to two years, he’s looked like he’s had the troubles of the world on his shoulders and he looks like he’s back into a good place on the pitch and off the pitch. He’s a fantastic player and he can have a huge impact on the tournament.”
Despite his support for the 25-year-old, though, Rooney revealed he wouldn’t start Rashford in his front-three, instead opting for Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane.
When quizzed on his starting XI to face Iran in the first group game, Rooney said: ”I’d go with [Jordan] Pickford in goal – I think he hasn’t let anyone down. Then I’d go with [a back four of] Trent [Alexander-Arnold], John Stones, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw.
Rooney continued: “I’d go with Declan Rice. Then, I know he hasn’t played, but I’d go with [Kalvin] Phillips in midfield and [Jude] Bellingham as a number ten.
“Then Phil Foden, Saka and Harry Kane up top.”
Rooney also gave his thoughts on the inclusion of James Maddison who made the cut after a string of superb displays for Leicester City.
The D.C. United boss was confident Maddison would feature in Qatar despite his one and only appearance for England coming back in November 2019.
“Yeah, I’m sure he will [be involved],” said Rooney. “I think obviously with Phillips not playing the games he would have liked during the season.
“I think there’s the option to drop Bellingham back a little bit next to Declan and bring Maddison in that number ten role
“So I’m sure he will get his opportunities, I think the main thing for him is to just go and be professional and train right and make sure you show Gareth in training that you’re ready to come on and play or start.
“If he does that, then I’m sure that Gareth won’t ignore him.”
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