There is no doubt that Wayne Rooney has a point to prove when he pulls on the England shirt against San Marino this weekend.
Over the past couple of weeks, rumours have swirled over the future of the Manchester United striker after he was controversially left out of the starting XI in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid at Old Trafford.
For some reason, which this writer fails to understand, there seems to be a perception that Rooney has failed to live up to the potential that he first showed when he burst onto the scene as a raw 16-year-old at Everton.
Rooney can silence the doubters with two strong performances for England. With matchups against San Marino and Montenegro in the next couple of days, two wins would put England in pole position to qualify for the World Cup.
It cannot be in doubt that Rooney has already achieved a huge amount in his career, and just because he is not on the level of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi does not mean he is not a brilliant footballer.
He is, and in my opinion, Alex Ferguson made one of the biggest mistakes of his managerial career when he chose to leave him out of that game against Madrid in favour of the functional Danny Welbeck.
As his career stands at the moment, he is well on track to finishing as the top scorer for both Manchester United and England, usurping the great Bobby Charlton on both occasions. He has won every trophy there is to win at the club level and a myriad of individual awards along the way.
And he is still only 27 years old.
Although his season has been somewhat interrupted by injury, and also the good form of Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez, he is undoubtedly the in-form striker for Manchester United at this moment in time, as they chase a Premier League and FA Cup double.
He has been sharp in front of goal with 16 goals in 30 appearances this season and currently stands three goals away from 200 goals for Manchester United.
If Rooney can finish the season strongly, with one or two more winner's medals to add to his collection and gets a strong preseason under his belt, then I truly believe we will see Wayne Rooney at his peak over the next three or four years.
Perhaps being left out of the starting lineup against Madrid was the spur he needed to finally kick on and get closer to Messi and Ronaldo.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!