Gareth Southgate believes Wayne Rooney may have peaked too early in his career - although fans won’t be sure until he hits 28.
Rooney burst onto the scene with Everton aged just 16, and recently celebrated 10 years since his debut for the Toffees in the Premier League.
The 26-year-old has already racked up 367 league appearances and earned 76 caps for England. Rooney's goal scoring has been good in recent seasons, some critics believe his exploits in front of goal have been to the detriment of his all-round game.
Southgate fears Rooney may pay the price for achieving so much so young, and says the best of his playing days could already be behind him, comparing him to former United striker Michael Owen who at 32-years-old appears well past his best.
“He’s still a young man so hopefully we’re still to see the best of him” he told the Sun.
“But some players peak young and their best years are earlier than others.
“We won’t know with Wayne Rooney if that’s the case until he’s 28-30.”
He added: “Being at Manchester United was a quite a good scenario for someone like Michael.
“Physically it’s very difficult for him to get on the field every week. He wasn’t able to do that three or four years ago, I don’t see him being able to do that now.
“At United, he was able to come into the side, make an impact and not have to play every week.”
Rooney looks set to return to action this weekend for United’s game against Tottenham following a month on the sidelines, although he could make his return in mid-week for the Capital One Cup tie against Newcastle.