Rooney may have to wait for under 21 caps

Last updated : 21 January 2003 By Austin Rathe
Platt is blessed with a wealth of striking talent at the moment and Rooney is one amongst many hopefulls.

Platt said: "The message to everyone is that this is a difficult squad to get into. What I will tell you is that one player at this moment who is on fire is Jermain Defoe. He is an under-21 striker who is doing nothing wrong whatsoever. Francis Jeffers has scored 12 goals in 12 games for the under-21s. Shola Ameobi gives me a physical presence and did well in the last two games against Slovakia and Macedonia.

"Bobby Zamora is doing well and now people are hitting me with more players to add to an under-21 squad when I'm finding it difficult enough to pick two strikers.

"I've got problems already with the players in my squad in that I can only pick a couple in attack.

"Wayne Rooney has played very well for Everton and he is a very good player who has been very beneficial for them, especially coming off the bench.

"What people choose to forget is that he came off the bench to score the winner against Arsenal and Leeds and so, therefore, it was two cameo appearances and then all of a sudden it's 'he should be in the full England squad'."

Platt added: "What I will say is that I have a pool of players to choose from that stretches to 35 and Wayne has forced his way into a pool of players from which I will choose a squad. Your ability says you might be able to get into the squad but it's not a case of 'yes, he's good enough'. It's a case of 'are you better than the people in the squad?' That's the challenge to everyone - not just Wayne Rooney."

This will be good news for David Moyes, who is desparate to delay Rooney's international career for as long as possible, for fear of the player playing too much football.