has heaped praise on ‘top player’ Bukayo Saka ahead of the and warned winger Raheem Sterling that the star could keep him out of England’s team.
Saka and Sterling appear to be competing for the same place in Gareth Southgate’s side and have experienced vastly different starts to the 2022-23 campaign.
While Saka has helped Arsenal soar five points clear at the top of the Premier League – scoring four goals and supplying six assists in 14 games – Sterling has largely struggled following a £50m move from Manchester City last summer.
Saka has been one of Arsenal’s best players this season but Sterling is struggling to show his best form at Stamford Bridge, with the Blues losing their last four games to slip to eighth in the Premier League.
Despite Sterling’s frustrations, Rooney says it would be tough for Southgate to leave him out of his World Cup starting XI and insists ‘no one could complain’ if he started England’s opener against Iran.
However, the former Manchester United and England striker has been impressed by Saka’s form and says he is a ‘top player’ with ‘no fear’.
‘On the right, it’s a difficult one,’ Rooney told . ‘For England, Sterling has been very good and Saka is a top player, so I would play either of them off the right.
‘The idea would be for Trent [Alexander-Arnold] to push on down the flank and for them to come in to provide a second No 10. It would cause teams problems.
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‘I played many games with Sterling and he improved a lot. Working with Pep Guardiola at City improved him tactically and he has become good at the simple things, which maybe he wasn’t before.
‘He can score goals, create goals, he’s quick and can beat a man. As shown in the past two tournaments, he can be a crucial player for England.
‘Saka puts Sterling under pressure, though. He plays with no fear and we’ve been talking about players not being in club form, but he is the opposite: he has been in great form for Arsenal.
‘They’re great options for Gareth and I think in different games he’ll change his team up. I don’t think anyone could complain whichever one is chosen.’
After beginning their World Cup campaign against Iran, England face USA and Wales in Group B.
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