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USA's Dave Sarachan Says Wayne Rooney Return Doesn't Cheapen England Match

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 12, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 29: Wayne Rooney #9 of D.C. United reacts in the first half during a game against the Philadelphia Union at Audi Field on August 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The United States' friendly fixture against England on Thursday will not be cheapened by a one-off testimonial appearance by their all-time top goalscorer Wayne Rooney, says interim Stars and Stripes coach Dave Sarachan.

Wembley will host the friendly fixture that's been named the "The Wayne Rooney Foundation International," in honour of the D.C. United star's charity. Rooney announced his retirement from the international game in August 2017, but Sarachan has no issue with the Three Lions legend giving his last farewell, per Sky Sports:

"It's not like Wayne retired and is just coming back after two years off. He's coming off a terrific season in the States with D.C. United and is in good form.

"I think every federation should reward players who have had a great history with the team, whether it's giving them a game or other ways."

It's been two years since Rooney made his last appearance for England, and opinion has been split over whether an official match—even if only a friendly—is the setting for his testimonial.

Rooney's wife, Coleen, recently defended the occasion and pointed to his status as England top scorer—a position held by Sir Bobby Charlton from May 1968 to September 2015—as justification:

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Coleen Rooney @ColeenRoo

Can’t believe how much negativity there is going around ....Let’s celebrate each other’s achievements ..... A record was broken for the country after 50 years surely that deserves some sort of recognition.

The 33-year-old, who netted 53 times for England, left Everton for Major League Soccer in June and has enjoyed a resurgence with D.C. United, helping the club clinch a play-off place that looked almost impossible prior to his arrival.

The Football Association (h/t BBC Sport) confirmed Rooney will appear as a second-half substitute. But he won't be made captain, nor will he get to wear his old No. 10 shirt, now usually worn by Manchester City's Raheem Sterling.

Ex-Celtic striker Chris Sutton argued against the notion of Rooney being allowed to earn a 120th cap, and the BT Sport pundit said his appearance could deny a player with more genuine England aspirations:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

"You can't just give caps out like that willy-nilly!" 😠 "If he scores a hat-trick, will he play against Croatia?" 🤷‍♂️ Safe to say @chris_sutton73 is not happy with Wayne Rooney's farewell international... #PLTonight https://t.co/80ZZZIHnmM

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino gave the opposite view, however, and relished the opportunity to see Rooney back in England colours, via Goal:

Goal @goal

Pochettino thinks it will be "fantastic" to see Rooney in an England shirt again https://t.co/UNayO0s3pV

Sarachan agrees Rooney has the quality to stand at this level still, and the veteran will treat it as his own test of how he compares alongside some of his old team-mates.

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