Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has said that captain Wayne Rooney hasn't been affected by being dropped at the weekend and insists that the 30-year-old is still the club's "main man".
Smalling took the armband in Rooney's absence and led the Red Devils to an impressive 4-1 win over Leicester City, kicking off the scoring himself with a powerful header.
Rooney has struggled to find his best form recently and his position in Jose Mourinho's starting XI was under increasing question before he was named on the bench for the first time in the league this season against the champions.
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Despite being 26, Smalling is one of the most experienced players in the current United squad and he should know Rooney very well, having played alongside him for many years at both club and international level.
The centre-back was asked for Rooney's reaction and whether he appeared down after finding out he had been dropped, and his reply was: "No. He was the same before the game when we were all getting ready."
Smalling continued: "He is often one of the most vocal and he was the same. Whatever the situation is, whatever game, whether he is on the bench or playing or whatever, he is always that same type of character and that's why he is England's main man and our main man."
Smalling backs Rooney to return
Rooney moved to Old Trafford 12 years ago and, with a goal tally of 246, finds himself just four goals away from becoming the club's all-time leading goalscorer. The England skipper has played in many different roles, but Smalling believes it won't be long until he is back.
"He's a very experienced guy and he's played that many games that I think it'll only be a matter of time before he's back in there and firing again because he's quality," the ex-Fulham star added.
Mourinho on Rooney
Meanwhile, manager Mourinho also backed Rooney after Saturday's win, saying: "He's my man, I trust him completely. He's as happy as I am at this moment. He's a big player for me, for United, a big player for this country."
One thing that isn't in doubt is Rooney's place among the Red Devils' all-time greats. Despite his poor form of late, he received an enthusiastic reception both when he was sent out to warm up and when he came on for Marcus Rashford in the 83rd minute.
That said, following United's stunning first-half display against Leicester without him, the immediate future for Rooney remains unclear and he looks set to face a fight to regain a starting berth.
Can Rooney regain his place in Man Utd's starting XI? Have YOUR say in the comments box below!
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