Wayne Rooney believes young players from the north of England find it harder to break into the England team than those from the south and thinks Dominic Calvert-Lewin deserved his senior international call-up before Chelsea's Tammy Abraham.
Calvert-Lewin, 23, broke into Gareth Southgate's England side earlier this month after a blistering start to the new campaign, scoring five goals in three league games for Everton.
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Abraham, who is the same age as Calvert-Lewin, earned his first England cap in 2017, starting in a friendly against Germany after impressing on loan at Swansea.
The Chelsea striker then waited two years for his next senior call-up but was named in Southgate's squad in October 2019 having made a similarly eye-catching start to the season.
Reflecting on Calvert-Lewin's breakthrough in his Sunday Times column, Rooney said: "For England, he can become an important member of the squad and it's great seeing him finally recognised at international level.
"I've always thought young lads from the north have to work harder to get their England opportunities than boys from the big southern clubs. I felt Calvert-Lewin deserved his chance before Chelsea's Tammy Abraham."
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Last season Calvert-Lewin hit a career-high 15 goals, with manager Carlo Ancelotti keeping faith in the striker, despite going a run of ten games without scoring.
"We're seeing the rewards," said Rooney. "Dominic always had it in him and the big question mark was whether he could score consistently enough, but now that is coming through game time.
"When I returned to Everton he was entering his second season with the club. I looked at him in training and thought 'he has everything'.
"He was quick, strong, good in the air. His only downfall was he was snatching at chances but he was already working hard to correct that and Duncan Ferguson deserves a lot of credit because Duncan would always stay with him after training and give him finishing drills."