Rooney was handed the captain’s armband for England’s 5-0 win over San Marino last Friday, an honour that recognises his burgeoning maturity. In return, the Reds striker scored twice, moving to fifth - overtaking Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer – in the list of all-time Three Lions scorers.
After working with Rooney on a daily basis on international duty for the last week, and having enjoyed seven seasons alongside him at United before retiring in 2011, Neville is excellently poised to assess the forward’s current form and fitness. And he is clearly impressed.
“He is a wonderful player. Wayne Rooney is best when he is like the street kid, the kid who just fights for every ball, loves playing football and wants to take every free kick, every throw-in, tackles, heads and fights with a passion to win.
“We need to see Wayne Rooney improve and Wayne Rooney needs to see himself improve. In the last few weeks, coming back from that injury, I have seen a lean, fit, hungry Wayne Rooney. He looks like he is up for the next challenge in his career.
“He has got people like Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck and other huge challenges around him just to retain his position at United but he looks like he is really up for it.”