Steve McClaren feels Wayne Rooney has "gone a long way" towards proving his international pedigree after returning to the scoresheet for England on Saturday.
The 21-year-old Manchester United FC striker marked his first appearance in seven months for England with an excellent performance against Estonia, linking up well with Michael Owen in attack and crowning a very good afternoon's work when he turned and fired home a left-foot shot from a Joe Cole cross to put England 2-0 up after 32 minutes as they went on to win 3-0.
It was his first goal in 16 competitive matches for England since he scored two against Croatia at UEFA EURO 2004™ in Portugal. Rooney said before the Estonia game that he had not played at his best for his country for some considerable time, while McClaren said the striker was "potentially world-class" but still had a long way to go to get there.
McClaren said: "When players of his standard receive criticism, they have to prove themselves on the pitch. That is exactly what Wayne did, and now he has to do it consistently. He admitted himself that he had a point to prove and he has gone a long way to doing that. We all know Wayne is a threat and I repeat, he has the potential to be world class. I am delighted with his goal but his overall contribution to the team was very good. He got better and better as the game went on."
England's fifth successive 3-0 win in Group E meant that if they beat Russia in Moscow on Wednesday they will qualify for next summer's finals in Austria and Switzerland. The only worry for McClaren before his squad head to Moscow is the fitness of skipper John Terry (knee), although his Chelsea FC club-mate Ashley Cole misses out with an injured ankle.
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