Wayne Rooney: This is the best dressing room in my England career

Skipper has praised the current squad of England players

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The Independent Online

Wayne Rooney says that the current England squad has the best dressing-room atmosphere of any he has played in during his 12 years in the national team – a consequence of so many young players coming into the frame at the same time.

The England captain was speaking after he had scored the winning goal against Slovenia in the Euro 2016 qualifier on Sunday, taking England’s unbeaten run this season to 10 games and establishing himself as joint second on the all-time scorers list with 48 goals. Not a man given to hyperbole, Rooney’s admission was an insight into the changes that have been wrought since last summer’s World Cup.

He said: “It’s probably the best dressing room since I’ve been in the international set-up. The difference is there are so many young players together. When I came through I was on my own with a load of senior lads. They have all come through together, which  settles them down when we meet up and really they’re the ones who are taking over the dressing room.

“Myself and Gary Cahill have to take a back seat and let them do what they’re doing and be young lads. It’s great to be a part of. We are still learning and, hopefully, we will get better – everyone really gets on, it’s great to see. There is a lot of rivalry at club level but as soon as we meet up with England everyone is together. It’s good to be a part of.”

Rooney said that he was confident he would break Bobby Charlton’s 45-year-old record of 49 goals for the England team at some point. But he added he hoped that whatever total he set would not stand for as long as Charlton’s, but instead be surpassed by another England goalscorer.

Rooney said: “It’s stood for 45 years. Many players have had a go and tried to do it and not done it. To be within a goal at 29 [years old] with a few good years in me to play, I’m sure it will happen. If I was in my last year or six months, I’d be more edgy, but I’m not concerned. I’m sure it will happen at some stage.”

Asked if he hoped his would stand as long, Rooney said, “I hope not, because I hope some of the very talented young players come through. If it is going to be another 45 years, you’re hoping that two or three who come in and take it really quick. That’d be great. If it happens, I wouldn’t be too concerned.”

The manager, Roy Hodgson, defended his decision to move Jordan Henderson to right-back instead of calling upon specialist right-back Nathaniel Clyne, who eventually came on late in the Slovenia game. Clyne, who was overlooked in favour of Phil Jones in the first place, was first off the pitch having played only five minutes.

Hodgson said: “I didn’t notice Clyne walk off, you would have to ask him. He’s a good lad, he’s been very solid since he’s come in, we like him very much. I would be surprised if he did that. I spoke to him and explained what I was doing and you can’t expect anyone to be happy. After the game when you are walking around the substitutes you won’t get the same smiling faces as you do from the XI who played. That is a fact of life.”

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