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Is Rooney as good as popular opinion suggests?

October 7, 2011. It was a Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro and England secured their place at last summer's tournament with a 2-2 draw.

Wayne Rooney saw red and England would be without their star striker for the start of the tournament.

But is the terrier-like scouser the player he once was?

He seems to have grown up but, like a speedy winger who has come back after an injury and no longer has the level of pace that kept him at the top of his game, Rooney seems to have gone off the boil.

The Manchester United striker would be considered world class in anyone's book, but is he really?

Sure, he scored against San Marino, but so did most of his team-mates.

Sure, he's a top player and he has performed well for England. But well enough?

Quality

For Manchester United, there is no doubting Rooney's quality, but even then, is he performing consistently at a high enough level?

And as for England, has his star really shone that brightly?

With United colleague Danny Welbeck making an impression for club and country and Robin van Persie now apparently the main man at Old Trafford, has Rooney lost his sparkle?

Tuesday night's game in Montenegro will be a good tester for him.

Rewind to England's last visit to Podgorica and it wasn't a good night for Wayne.

The then England manager Fabio Capello was confident that Rooney was up to the task following his father's arrest in connection with a probe into alleged betting irregularities.

Plain sailing

But he lashed out at Miodrag Dzudovic, his night ended prematurely, and so did his chances of playing in England's opening two Euro 2012 games.

How a game can change though.

After 31 minutes, it had all looked like plain sailing. Goals from Ashley Young and Darren Bent gave their nation a 2-0 lead and England appeared to be cruising.

A 2-0 half-time lead would have sustained that belief, but everything changed when Elsad Zverotic found the England net - and it went from bad to worse after Rooney was rightly shown a red card for needlessly kicking Dzudovic.

Stiill, the 10 men looked like they might hold on, until in stoppage time, Dzudovic's cross was met by the head of Andrija Delibasic.

So, fast forward to Tuesday evening. One or two questions might be answered. Has Wayne come of age? Has he matured? And, more importantly, does he have the spark England need to help them complete a successful World Cup qualifying campaign?


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