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Meulensteen: Rooney can star

Former Manchester United first-team coach Rene Meulensteen has backed Wayne Rooney to prove his World Cup critics wrong against Uruguay on Thursday.

Last Updated: 17/06/14 at 14:47 Post Comment

Meulensteen: Backing Rooney to come good in Brazil

Meulensteen: Backing Rooney to come good in Brazil

The Dutchman worked with Rooney at Old Trafford between 2008 and 2013 and believes the forward should switch to the middle and play behind Daniel Sturridge for England.

Rooney stayed behind after Monday's training session, leading to speculation that he would be dropped after the opening 2-1 defeat to Italy in Manaus, but he was then seen in extra shooting practice to suggest he could indeed play behind Liverpool's Sturridge with Raheem Sterling moved onto a wing.

When asked if he thought Rooney would start the crucial Group D clash against the South Americans, Meulensteen told Sky Sports News: "Yes, without a doubt.

"It's a bit strange really that there's such a sort of national debate about Wayne in itself. I think we all know what a player he can be and I really agree with what has been previously said that we really need to be positive, we need not to be looking at certain things where it can go wrong for England.

"We need to look for where it can go right and, in my opinion, he should start and he should start in his best possible position, which is behind Daniel Sturridge."

Meulensteen was also encouraged by reports that England manager Roy Hodgson was ready to change formation and move Rooney off the left flank and into the middle for the meeting of Los Charruas in Sao Paulo.

He added: "There's lots of positives to take from the Italy game. I think we have got a different sort of threat going forward. But if you know Wayne and the type of player he is, Wayne likes to be involved right from the word go, the more he gets involved the more touches he gets on the ball, the better rhythm he can build for himself, the more chances (he will get).

"You will see him hitting key passes, getting in and around the box, and creating more goalscoring chances for himself. Wayne is that sort of player who understands really, really well that it's a team effort and as long as he can contribute, from whatever position it is, he never has a problem."

Meulensteen was also at the forefront of Danny Welbeck's development as a professional at Manchester United and expected Rooney's club colleague to mature and grow in confidence throughout the World Cup campaign.

He said: "(He has) Energy, first of all. I think he is very, very good tracking back and nicking balls back again when the opposition is trying to build from the back so therefore you're still sort of in your opponents half, you can have quick transition.

"He's quick, he's got very, very strong you could see that in the little run he made on the right-hand side against Italy when he went through and then crossed into the box. He's a versatile player.

"I do think is that (what) Danny needs to add to his game in the coming years is a little bit more of an attacking edge when it comes to converting goalscoring chances."

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