Manchester City midfielder James Milner has backed England colleague Wayne Rooney to surpass Bobby Charlton’s international goals record, and is hoping the captain will edge closer to the landmark over the next two games.
Charlton’s tally of 49 goals has stood for 44 years but will, seemingly inevitably, fall to Rooney in the not too distant future should the Manchester United centre-forward avoid any catastrophe over the coming games for his country.
Rooney has found the net 41 times in England colours, which places him fourth on the list, and four further goals will allow him to move past Jimmy Greaves to outright third. Gary Lineker will then be Rooney’s next target, before he focusses on Charlton.
The Manchester United captain will be optimistic he can make a sizeable dent in Charlton’s record over England’s imminent encounters against San Marino and Estonia, two sides England are expected to beat heavily.
Record in sight
Return fixtures against both teams along with two games against each Lithuania and Slovenia could ensure Rooney hits his mark before by the end of the Euro 2016 qualification process, and Milner is hopeful this is just what happens.
"He has had a fantastic career and has scored so many important goals for us so hopefully he can get more over the next couple of games - and years - going forwards,” Milner said at a press conference on Tuesday.
"It is a good opportunity for him to get those goals now.
"Maybe it's on his mind. Hopefully he can get past it sooner rather than later and forget about it."
Manchester United benchmark
This may not be the only of Charlton’s achievements to be overtaken by Rooney before the £300,000-per-week star finishes his career, with the Manchester United goals record also belonging to the England and Old Trafford icon.
Charlton was able to score 249 times in his 758 appearances for the club, while Rooney is currently third on Manchester United’s all-time list with 219 goals in his 448 games in a decade as a Red Devil.
While the England record is well within his reach, it may take some time until Rooney breaks new ground in the history of Manchester United, particularly given that he has been moved out of a central striker role by Louis van Gaal.