England Still Needs Rooney But He Is Finished As A Striker – Owen
Former England hitman, Michael Owen believes Wayne Rooney’s days as England’s central striker have come to an end, as he backed Tottenham’s Harry Kane or Leicester’s Jamie Vardy to lead the line at next summer’s Euro 2016 finals.
Owen – who scored 40 goals for England in a glittering international career between 1998 and 2008 –told Yahoo Sport that Manchester United captain Rooney could be accommodated in a deeper role at international level, but wants to see the next generation handed the lead role.
“I would try and find a role for Rooney in the England team, but it wouldn’t be as the lead striker any more,” BT Sport pundit Owen said in an exclusive interview.
“For me, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are ahead of Rooney in the queue for the lead striking role now and one of them if not both have to play at Euro 2016.
“It will probably work out that one of Kane or Vardy will start on the bench for England given the system Roy Hodgson plays, but I would play Rooney in the deeper role behind the lead striker as that is where I feel he can be most effective at this stage of his career.
“I was talking to Glenn Hoddle (former England manager) about this last week and we both came to the conclusion that Kane or Vardy have everything England need to be the lead striker next summer. Even though Rooney has played better for United in recent weeks, he should not be an automatic pick to start as the lead forward.”
Owen is a big admirer of Vardy, whose rise from the lower leagues of English football to the very top of the game has been one of the stories of this season.
“I love what Vardy has brought to the Premier League this season and at this stage, you cannot say he is lucky or a flash in the pan,” added Owen. “He is a proven striker over the last two seasons and his goal record in the last few months confirms he is right up there with the best strikers in the Premier League.
“He has pace, bags of energy, makes great runs and is a fine finisher. He has it all and is one of the primary reasons why Leicester are threatening to run away with the title race. He might not as good an all-round striker as Kane or Rooney, but Vardy brings something to the equation that neither of those two have and that is raw pace. That frightens any defender.
“If I was still a player now, my vote in the PFA Player of the Year award would probably go to Vardy and if he leads Leicester to the title, it would be the most amazing achievement in football history, without a doubt. I think they can certainly do it now, no question.
“Look at their run in and aside from Arsenal away on Saturday, they have a lot of winnable game in there. With a five point lead established, they could have the title wrapped up by the end of April. It is just an amazing story.
“I think things are looking good for England next summer. Dele Alli is looking like a great player and I’d put him straight into the England starting line-up and there is a good crop of exciting young players who are good enough to do well in a major championship.”