By Emma Sanders
Jordan Henderson has claimed Wayne Rooney delivered a “fantastic” display for England in their 2-0 win over Malta.
The Liverpool midfielder backed the national team captain after their country’s routine in the World Cup qualifier win over the minnows Malta once again called into question Rooney’s involvement in the side.
Rooney made his England debut against Australia in 2003 aged just 17 and has gone on to become the country’s highest goal-scorer.
However, a string of uninspiring performances in recent seasons for both club and country has spurred on criticism from fans.
Henderson said fans will criticise as they “want us to do well” but revealed the instructions he and his captain were given ahead of the game as he delivered an assessment of Rooney.
“Our instructions were to make sure we communicated and to make sure that both of us didn’t get ahead of the ball and leave gaps in the middle,” Henderson said, as quoted by the BBC Sport website.
“We had to make sure one of us was always protecting and one of us was getting forward. I felt we got that balance right a lot of the time.
“I feel the criticism comes because the fans know we have good players and want us to do well. He’s our captain and our leader and is a fantastic player for both Manchester United and England.
“There’s always going to be criticism and we just have to stay together and win games. He put in a fantastic performance, got on the ball well and broke it up too to win it back for us.”
England’s next performance is against Slovenia on Tuesday and interim boss Gareth Southgate will take charge yet again.
Henderson and Rooney have both been named in the squad and could feature in the next World Cup Qualifier.
In other Liverpool news, manager Jurgen Klopp has urged the club to offer a new deal to play-maker.