Charlton happy for Rooney to surpass record

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Sir Bobby Charlton would have no problem if Wayne Rooney overtook his record of 49 goals for England.

With Michael Owen stuck on 40 and apparently having little chance of breaking into Fabio Capello's plans for next summer's World Cup in South Africa, attention is now turning to Rooney as the next man likely to challenge Charlton's mark.

The 23-year-old goes into tonight's qualifier with Croatia at Wembley 12th on the all-time list with 24 goals, the same as 1966 hero Sir Geoff Hurst.

If Rooney remains injury-free, he could expect to have another 10 years at the highest level, which would bring Charlton's record easily within reach.

And the man widely regarded as England's greatest player would be happy to hand over his record to the Manchester United marksman.

"I would really have no problems if Wayne eventually got beyond 50," Charlton told the Manchester Evening News.

"There are a lot of goals to come from him.

"I don't worry about talking about Wayne like this or the fact that people see him as so vital for England these days because he is a big lad, a strong character who can handle the pressure."

Indeed, as they stand on the brink of a remarkable change in fortunes following the failure to qualify for Euro 2008, Charlton feels Rooney can help steer England towards tournament success to emulate the glory day in 1966 of which he was such an integral part.

"We have suffered inconsistency for a good 20 or 30 years," said Charlton.

"But we are getting a consistent look to our game now under Fabio Capello.

"If the team continue to perform well, and Wayne is also a key to that, then we can starting thinking about success at international level again."