Wayne Rooney feels Dominic Calvert-Lewin deserved his England opportunity before Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham.
Both players are now firmly embedded in Gareth Southgate’s international plans but Abraham was called up long before Calvert-Lewin got his chance.
The Chelsea forward was capped in November 2017 while on loan with Swansea, while Calvert-Lewin had to wait almost three years longer – October 2020 – for the call.
Rooney believes this is due to an in-built bias against players from northern areas in comparison to their southern counterparts.
‘When I returned to Everton in 2017 he was entering his second season with the club,’ he told The Sunday Times of Calvert-Lewin. ‘I looked at him in training and thought ‘he has everything’. He was quick, strong, good in the air.
‘His only downfall was he was snatching at chances but he was already working hard to correct that and Duncan Ferguson deserves a lot of credit because Duncan would always stay with him after training and give him finishing drills. These were for finishing with his feet – the heading ability you see, that is more natural.
‘The leap Dom is blessed with is incredible. In the gym, when we did box jumps, he would jump a full box above everyone else. What has improved is his timing and the positions he is taking up in the box.
‘I loved the header he scored against Liverpool because when you’re a kid playing as a No 9, the first thing you’re told is to get across the front post to let a midfielder or wide player arrive behind you, and you can fall into the trap of thinking you have to do that every time.
‘Sometimes, especially when you’re alone in the box, you need to be more patient and read the situation, anticipate where the ball might be coming. For that goal, Dominic waited, which gave Lucas Digne the opportunity to float his cross. It was a brilliant delivery. That floated one is perfect for a player like Calvert-Lewin who if they get a run on the defender will leave them with no chance.
‘Andy Carroll – and Duncan himself – were others who wanted the ball floated rather than whipped in, so they could use their power and leap and Calvert-Lewin is a bit of a throwback.
‘Ancelotti has stopped him making those silly runs chasing down the full backs and wasting energy. Now he saves that energy for the big moments.
‘For England, he can become an important member of the squad and it’s great seeing him finally recognised at international level.
‘I’ve always thought young lads from the north have to work harder to get their England opportunities than boys from the big southern clubs. I felt Calvert-Lewin deserved his chance before Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham.’