Wayne Rooney has hit back at Paul Scholes for his suggestion that the England striker is past his best and should no longer be considered an automatic first choice for his country.
Speaking for the first time about Scholes’ outspoken column on a betting website, Rooney said in the aftermath of England’s 2-2 draw with Ecuador that his former team-mate was out of touch with day-to-day life at United.
Scholes had suggested Rooney might be “worn out” and questioned whether the England manager Roy Hodgson would have the guts to drop him if he underperformed in World Cup warm-up games.
Playing on the left side of Hodgson’s attacking three, Rooney scored his 39th international goal against Ecuador in only his second game since April 26. Afterwards he made himself available to the press in what looked like an eagerness to address some of the criticism levelled at him.
Asked about Scholes, Rooney said: “To be honest I’m not really interested in what anyone else has got to say. I’m interested in what Roy Hodgson and the coaching staff here and the people around me say. People have their opinions but I don’t agree with them.
“He (Scholes) has been a team-mate but he’s been away from the first team for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of you (reporters) saying he’s coached me and been around the team but he hasn’t. I’m not really going to react. I’m not interested. He’s got his opinions so let’s leave it at that.”
Rooney said there were no doubts over his fitness and he was prepared to play in the left-sided position in which he was deployed for the first time under Hodgson.
Rooney said: “The manager didn’t have to tell me what to do. I know how to play that role. I’ve played it many times and I have no problem doing that.
“I can play in different positions. I’ve proven that over the years. It is down to the manager. It is not about me, it’s about the team.
“I’m pleased to score and pleased to get another 60 minutes so I was happy. I felt good but you need game time so I was delighted to get another 60 minutes under my belt and I feel better. I’m ready to play. I’m ready.”
Asked whether he was prepared now to play in England’s first game of the World Cup finals, against Italy on June 14 in Manaus, he insisted that was indeed the case.
“I’ve said before, I’ve trained hard, no injuries or recurrence of the groin strain I had at the end of the season. I always would have needed game time such as the first game at Wembley and tonight,” he said.
“I felt really good, especially in the heat. I’m ready to play. I’m sure the manager will have a tough decision but I’m ready.”