LONDON • Wayne Rooney is struggling with the burden of responsibility at Manchester United and fears that his form could cost him his place in the England football team at the European Championship finals in June.
The United and England captain was set to be restored to his club side against Chelsea at Old Trafford early this morning (Singapore time) after being dropped from the starting line-up for the 2-0 away defeat by Stoke City on Saturday.
Rooney's immediate priority is to get his and United's season back on track.
But the striker, 30, is understood to be increasingly worried about his prospects of leading the line for England at Euro 2016 in France, in what could be his last chance to make a telling impact at a leading tournament.
Those concerns deepened last week when Roy Hodgson, the England manager, admitted that he could not guarantee his captain a place.
Despite scoring 11 goals in his past 14 appearances for England, Rooney is under mounting pressure from Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, who have excelled for Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City, respectively.
HE'LL COME GOOD
Rooney's still got enough football in him to suggest he will do well. He's played better for England than he has for United this season.''
GLENN HODDLE, former England manager, on whether Rooney can get out of his slump ahead of Euro 2016
Sources at United have indicated that Rooney feels under "immense pressure".
While he is grateful to Louis van Gaal for entrusting him with the captaincy, the striker has found himself in a progressively more difficult position, with his responsibility to the manager tempered by frustration at some of the Dutchman's methods.
Whereas Kane has scored 10 goals in his past nine Premier League games (before last night's encounter with Watford), and Vardy has 15 league goals this season, Rooney is averaging a goal every 592.5 minutes - more than double the ratio in any of his previous 13 campaigns.
His best return was 26 league goals at an average of one every 104.7 minutes in 2009-10.
Theo Walcott, the Arsenal forward, and, if fit, Daniel Sturridge, of Liverpool, are additional threats to Rooney's place in England's first XI.
Former England manager Glenn Hoddle, however, still believes that Rooney can find his best football in time to stake his Euro 2016 spot.
He told The Sun: "Rooney's still got enough football in him to suggest he will do well.
"He's played better for England than he has for United this season.
"I'd like to see him and Harry Kane playing together with Jamie Vardy putting them under pressure from the bench."
THE TIMES, LONDON