Chris Smalling backs Wayne Rooney to bounce back for Manchester United and England

Wayne Rooney (R) in action for Manchester United after coming on as a substitute
Image: Wayne Rooney (R) in action for Manchester United after coming on as a substitute

Chris Smalling has backed Manchester United and England's 'main man' Wayne Rooney to start firing again after being dropped by Jose Mourinho.

In the public eye since breaking onto the scene as a precocious teenager, the United boss on Friday said that the forward appeared to have been taken aback by this season's scrutiny and criticism.

Mourinho went as far as to say Rooney had been damaged by criticism in the aftermath of England's recent World Cup qualifier in Slovakia and the following day took his captain out of the starting line-up.

Gary Neville gives his thoughts on Jose Mourinho's decision to drop Manchester United captain Rooney

The move appeared to help rather than hinder as United notched four goals in the first-half against Leicester, with the skipper only introduced 83 minutes into the impressive 4-1 win against the reigning Premier League
champions.

Mourinho's decision and the form of Rooney will naturally lead to questions over his role for club and country, but stand-in captain Smalling has no doubt his team-mates' quality will shine through once again.

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"He was the same, as in before the game when we're all getting ready," the defender said of Rooney. "He is often one of the most vocal and he was the same on Saturday.

"Regardless of whatever the situation is, whatever game, whether he is on the bench or playing or whatever, he is always that same type of character and that's why he is England's main man and our main man.

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Chris Smalling of Man United scores with a header against Leicester
Image: Chris Smalling (12) scores one of United's four first-half goals against Leicester

"I think he's a very experienced guy and he's played that many games that I think it'll only be a matter of time before he's back in there and firing again because he's quality."

Asked if felt the win over Leicester felt like a big moment in the season, Smalling said: "Yeah, I think it is.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho points as Wayne Rooney waits to come on
Image: Rooney came on as a second-half substitute against Leicester

"I think there was a lot of talk for us to sort of turn the situation around because that was obviously a very bad week, the three results.

"But we could only really sort of show that we've changed by doing it on the pitch and I thought that first half was a great performance and really gave us a marker now to make sure we sort of attain to that.

"I think if we can start the game with that tempo, I think there's not many teams that can live with us.

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"It is about finding that consistency to make sure that we stay at that top end of that table because we don't want any more blips. We've had our blip hopefully for quite a while."

"Hopefully we can take this into next week because we've got another two big games and at home as well so hopefully we can put on a show."

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