World Cup: Wayne Rooney ready to 'lead' England's young stars against San Marino

Last Updated: 10/10/12 3:47pm

Wayne Rooney shares a joke with England coach Gary Neville

Wayne Rooney is ready to assume the 'Eric Cantona role' for England and help to nurture his young team-mates.

Rooney, with 76 caps, is regarded as one of the most experienced players in Roy Hodgson's squad and is in line to captain England in Friday's World Cup qualifier with San Marino. Steven Gerrard is suspended and Frank Lampard is struggling to overcome a knee injury.

The squad has now lost more experience following the retirement of John Terry and the Manchester United man accepts he has to be the one offering support and assistance, just as Cantona did at Old Trafford to the likes of Gary Neville and David Beckham.

"I remember Alex Ferguson telling me what a big help Cantona was to all those younger players at United. It is something I can try do for England"

Wayne Rooney

"There are a lot of young players in the squad and I always try to speak to them and offer advice," said Rooney.

"I remember Alex Ferguson telling me what a big help Cantona was to all those younger players at United.

"It is something I can try do for England and hopefully help bring the best out of them, as they can bring the best out of me."

As the post-Terry era begins, Rooney is happy to accept the Chelsea skipper's absence leaves a big hole for others to fill.

"He was fantastic for us" said Rooney. "JT is an old-fashioned centre-half, who is not afraid to get his foot in.

"Together with Paolo Maldini, he was one of the two toughest defenders I have played against

"He has made his decision to retire and we have to respect it. But he will be a loss to us."

Rooney, facing the media ahead of the Wembley game, also spoke about the Ashley Cole Twitter row. Rooney has in excess of five million followers, the highest figure for a British sports star.

"It is a good way for the fans to see a different side of you," he said.

"I don't try and get involved because you do get a bit of stick on it and obviously, I know everything I put on there is seen by everyone who follows you and it will be in the newspapers the next day, so I have to be careful.

"I didn't go on it to see how many followers I could get. But it is incredible the amount of support I get."