Barkley hails Rooney's England influence


Ross Barkley believes captain Wayne Rooney still has a pivotal role to play in England's bid for Euro 2016 glory.

Since bursting onto the international scene at Euro 2004, Rooney has been close to a guaranteed starter in attack for England.

But the Manchester United star, now 30, has struggled for form and fitness over recent seasons and faces a challenge from a new generation.

Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy were both on target as Roy Hodgson's men came from behind to beat Germany 3-2 in Berlin on Saturday, with their skipper still recuperating from knee ligament damage suffered during United's February loss at Sunderland.

Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge could pile further pressure on Rooney with an impressive performance as Hodgson's attacking spearhead against Netherlands at Wembley on Tuesday.

An alternative could be for the 30-year-old to slot into the number 10 position, where Barkley operates at club level, but the Everton midfielder has little doubt over Rooney's value to the Three Lions.

"Wayne is the captain, he leads the side," said Barkley. "He has the experience and he passes it on to the younger lads in the side and he helps us younger lads with the experience he has had in the past tournaments and qualifying stages.

"I am pretty new to the squad, but the team mixes really well. It's just a great bunch of lads.

"Yes, there is a lot of options. We have got goals all around the squad and that's good for us to all see because we know the goals can come from anywhere."

Barkley enjoyed a lively substitute cameo in the win over Germany, which he believes can only benefit England as they prepare for their assignment in France later this year.

"As a young team, that win will have done our confidence the world of good because we were playing against the world champions," Barkley added.

"To have come from 2-0 down to win 3-2 will give us a lot of belief. It's great to see but we know we still have a lot to learn and that we have a lot of games before we get to the Euros.

"We are staying level-headed and we know we have got to stay focused to keep improving."