16 June 2014 | News Comments

Neville: We're happy with Wayne

Gary Neville insists the England management are more than happy with Wayne Rooney's contribution at the World Cup so far.

Rooney came under fire for a sub-par performance in Saturday's 2-1 defeat against Italy.

Rooney set up Daniel Sturridge for England's equaliser, but he missed two good chances in the second half of the defeat in Manaus.

Neville, a former team-mate of Rooney, claims the England hierarchy have had no complaints about the 28-year-old, who he believes is still an important part of the national side.

"My opinion is that Wayne Rooney, after seeing him every day in training, is a very important player," said Neville, now an England coach.

"He is our top goal scorer under (manager) Roy (Hodgson), he is our main assist man and probably but for a yard he would have been man of the match if he had scored that goal (against Italy).

"We came off the pitch the other night and had our coaching debrief with Roy, Ray (Lewington), Dave (Watson) and myself and there was no other suggestion that Wayne Rooney had played pretty well for us in that game, that he had done everything we asked for."

Paul Scholes, a former team-mate of Rooney and Neville, sparked controversy when he suggested the England striker may be past his best.

"You can call it a debate or an obsession (about Rooney)" - Gary Neville

Neville refused to get drawn into a row with the former Manchester United and England midfielder.

"Paul is a great friend of mine but I am coaching Wayne Rooney, I am of the opinion that when you get to a player like Wayne Rooney, you have to cope with everything that is thrown your way," Neville added on BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It wasn't just Paul Scholes talking about Wayne Rooney. The fact of the matter is that it is one man's opinion, it's Paul's opinion and everyone else will have their opinion."

Neville concurred with Hodgson's assertion that the nation has an "obsession" with Rooney.

"You can call it a debate or an obsession (about Rooney)," he added.

"I don't think either are wrong because every time I have been part of a tournament I have seen this with a player, whether it be (Paul) Gascoigne, (Michael) Owen, (David) Beckham or Rooney.

"We love it. The whole country loves creating a drama around one player."