Juan Mata: Wayne Rooney is still an important player for England

by Ben Topliss

Juan Mata believes that Manchester United teammate Wayne Rooney is still an important player for England ahead of this summer’s European Championships.

Rooney has come in for criticism in recent months amid suggestions that England are better off without him in the side.

But the 30-year-old has impressed in a new midfield role in recent months and he provided an excellent assist to Mata in Man United’s 1-0 win over Norwich City last time out. Mata backed his teammate to make a big impact at the Euros.

“He does not have anything to prove,” Mata said.

“He can play as a striker, a winger, a midfielder as he has shown in the last few weeks. I would imagine Roy Hodgson is very happy with the positions that Wayne can play in.

“Wayne is important for us no matter which position he plays in; also with the experience he can bring to the dressing room.

“He is a great player and will always be a great player. He got an assist and showed very good movement. He played a great ball.”

Rooney has faced criticism throughout his career but he has always seemed to bounce back.

The debate will rage on over whether Rooney should start in France and, while it is true that his powers have diminished somewhat, there is no doubting that his experience and knowhow should prove invaluable to both club and country. Louis van Gaal will certainly be hoping Rooney can make the difference as the season draws to a close.

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