Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney has said he believes that Liverpool's Steven Gerrard should have been appointed England captain much earlier in his international career, and that he's one of the best players in the world.

Rooney's comments of praise come ahead of Gerrard's 32nd game leading the Three Lions in Friday night's World Cup qualifying clash against Montenegro.

Gerrard, who has had a vocal couple of weeks, recently expressed his passion for representing his country by saying "no-one cares more than the players do" about succeeding in the World Cup.

He is now seventh in the all-time list of captains, which puts him just two behind John Terry.

Gerrard was appointed England captain just weeks before Euro 2012, having previously worn the armband on a temporary basis whilst covering for an injured Rio Ferdinand.

Rooney has said he feels the 33-year-old deserved recognition much earlier.

He said: "Steven has been one of the best in the world over the last 15 years.

"We look to him to give us that drive.

"I think he got the captain's armband a bit later than he should have. He should have been named captain earlier.

"He has adapted his game a little bit.

"He is not going forward as much as he used to but he has certainly got the ability to sit a bit deeper and play passes out.

"He is our leader and is going to be a really important player for us."

Rooney also believes Gerrard will have a calming influence over Roy Hodgson's particularly young England squad this year, saying the experienced players are instrumental to keeping a tense situation calm.

England face Montenegro in their penultimate World Cup qualifying clash on Friday, and Poland on Tuesday in their last - two wins would secure the Three Lions place in Brazil next summer.

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