World Cup 2014: Wayne Rooney surprised by Paul Scholes criticism

By Phil McNultyChief football writer in Rio
England's Raheem Sterling, Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley
Wayne Rooney says England's young players should "enjoy" the World Cup

Wayne Rooney says Paul Scholes will have angered Manchester United by claiming the England striker may be past his peak.

The striker insisted he is in prime condition for the World Cup in Brazil.

Rooney, who says he was never close to Scholes, signed a five-and-a-half-year contract in February and launched a defiant response to his old team-mate.

"I'm sure he's upset a lot of people at United because they see me as worthy of signing a new deal," Rooney said.

"They have obviously got a different opinion to Paul but you will have to ask him about that."

Rooney is expected to take his place in England's side when they face Italy in their opening World Cup game in Manaus on Saturday.

The forward said: "He's been a great player at Manchester United but I've never had his phone number and he's never had mine."

The notoriously tactiturn Scholes surprised many when he suggested Rooney might be "worn out" after starting his Premier League career at 16 and questioned whether England's management team would be brave enough to drop him.

"It was a bit strange, I'll be honest," said Rooney. "He has his opinions and he's entitled to them.

"He's probably the best player I've ever played with, so I'm not going to knock him as a player, but I don't agree with his point."

BBC Sport pundits on England's chances

Rooney, meanwhile, believes Italy may be vulnerable to England's natural high tempo when they meet in the Amazonian venue.

He said: "I think Italian defenders I've played against tend to read the game really well. They put themselves in good positions. But when you play a high tempo, they've struggled.

"The Italian league is nowhere near the tempo of the Premier League.

"Even when we played AC Milan, with Alesandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini as centre-halves, they really struggled when we played a high tempo. If we can do that, I'm sure we can give them problems."

Rooney also said he has tried to put more natural aggression back into his game after a conversation with former United manager David Moyes.

He said: "There were different things going on at the time, different issues, and he gave me his honest opinion. He felt I had lost a bit of aggression out of my game - which I was asked to do by the way.

"He wanted me to find that aggression back and I thought about it a lot. Everything gets blown up.

"Before my sending-off for England in Montenegro, my record in terms of bookings and discipline was not that bad. Then it was blown up. Maybe I was trying to do too much."

Rooney also said he was certain club-mate Danny Welbeck would overcome a thigh problem to be available for Saturday's game.

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