Wayne Rooney will captain Derby County on his Rams debut after being named in their starting XI for Thursday's Championship clash at home to Barnsley.

Rooney's return to English football comes after the former Three Lions skipper ended his spell playing for MLS side DC United.

Manchester United and England's all-time leading goalscorer has been handed the armband after being included in the Derby team by his new boss Phillip Cocu.

Ex-Everton forward Rooney signed for Derby last August and has been training with the Rams since his contract with DC came to an end when they missed out on the 2019 play-offs.

Derby beat Charlton Athletic 2-1 at Pride Park on Monday to end a poor run of seven Championship games without a win.

The Rams are 17th in the table and will be hoping Rooney, who is also a coach on Cocu's backroom staff, can inspire a rise up the league.

Teenager Jason Knight scored twice to end 10-man Derby County's seven-game winless run with a 2-1 victory over Charlton Athletic in the final match before the start of Wayne Rooney's Rams playing career.

Player-coach Rooney is in line to debut against Barnsley this week, formally completing a January transfer from DC United, but his new side had largely struggled in the Championship in his absence until Monday's improved display at Pride Park.

It was a player 16 years Rooney's junior who made the difference with his first senior goals, the opener a brave, stooping header after just 10 minutes.

The hosts were dealt a blow when ex-Charlton loanee Krystian Bielik was shown a straight red card for an awful, late lunge on Conor Gallagher, but the 10 men remained in control and Knight steered in a clinical left-footed finish with 13 minutes remaining.

Although Lyle Taylor coolly dispatched a penalty for Charlton to set up a nervy finish, Derby held on through eight minutes of stoppage time for a precious win.

Wayne Rooney claims he is still good enough to play in the Premier League as the former England striker prepares to take up a player-coach role with Derby County. 

Rooney scored 208 goals in the English top flight during two spells with boyhood club Everton either side of his time at Manchester United, where he became the club's top scorer.

He joins a Rams side siting 16th in the second tier, but Rooney believes he can still cut in the top division.

"I still felt I could do it when I was at Everton, but other people made their decisions on that," said the 34-year-old, who watched Derby lose 1-0 to Millwall at Pride Park on Saturday

"Now my ambition is to get Derby back in the Premier League and hopefully play my part there for them.

"Ryan Giggs was able to play into his late thirties in the Premier League and Gareth Barry says he wants to do it at 40.

"Given the right team around me, then I could still play in the Premier League."

Rooney plans to go into management in the future, but believes he still has a lot to offer on the pitch if teams play to his strengths.

"It's important to understand football. It is not all about running round, it is about using your head to play the game," he explained.

"Sometimes that gets lost, because you don't score as many goals or whatever.

"The two teams I played for in the Premier League were Manchester United and Everton. I am at Derby now, and hopefully we can get there with them."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer compared Manchester United's current strike force to the combination of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez as he hailed the versatility of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James.

Rashford and Martial were on target as United beat Manchester City in last weekend's derby at the Etihad Stadium, and Solskjaer believes the young England forward is showing signs he can follow in the footsteps of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo.

Solskjaer and Ronaldo spent four years together as players at Old Trafford, before the Norwegian worked with his former team-mate as a forwards coach, and few people are better placed to compare the Juventus star with Rashford.

Speaking about the fluid movement and interchanging positional play of Rashford, Martial and James, Solskjaer told Sky Sports: "I think that's a big strength of ours as a team.

"If Marcus runs in behind, Anthony will get some space because it stretches the opponent. It can be the opposite way around too, with Anthony and Dan running in behind and Marcus coming to feet to get on the ball.

"I see this attack as being quite similar to the one we had with Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, with the interchanging of positions and the fast, flowing football."

Under Solskjaer, Rashford has equalled his best Premier League goal return in a single season within the first half of the 2019-20 campaign.

Rashford's 10th league goal of the season came from the penalty spot against City and Solskjaer praised the 22-year-old's versatility while drawing comparisons with Ronaldo, who played on the wing and as a striker during his time in Manchester.

"Of course it's hard to say with certainty that he's going to be as good as Cristiano, but you can see the similarities more and more in terms of Marcus' traits on the pitch," said Solskjaer.

"He can play through the middle, he can play as a number nine, he can cut inside from the left and finish. He can even play on the right, as Cristiano did when he came here. He's got the same physical stature and more or less all of his attributes are very, very similar. Even their stats are similar, in terms of goals scored after a certain amount of games."

"You have to remember that, as well as playing with Cristiano, I coached him in my first year as a forwards coach here," he added.

"Both players are very professional, very dedicated, very in love with football. And you can see that Marcus is getting more of a taste for that now, both with us and with England. He is pushing himself and seeing the results."

Scott McTominay had the honour of scoring Manchester United's 2000th Premier League goal as the Red Devils defeated Norwich City on Sunday and became the first team in the competition's history to hit the milestone.

A look back through the Old Trafford archives offers a striking masterclass from some of the greatest marksmen to have graced English football, with the likes of Mark Hughes, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and Ruud van Nistelrooy having plundered goals for the club.

Every United fan has their own favourite goal from the Premier League era, with unforgettable hits lighting up each of the 13 title triumphs achieved under Sir Alex Ferguson.

We've picked out eight of the very best, all of which came during the Ferguson era - a time when goals were easier to come by than they have been of late for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.


David Beckham v Wimbledon, August 17, 1996

It was the opening day of the 1996-97 season and Ferguson gave the number 10 shirt to the 21-year-old midfielder David Beckham.

United were already 2-0 up and heading for a straightforward victory at Selhurst Park when Beckham received the ball from Brian McClair and, from just inside his own half, launched it audaciously into the air, over the head of Dons goalkeeper Neil Sullivan and into the net.

It was one of the most memorable goals in Premier League history and one Beckham himself names as the pick of his career.

Eric Cantona v Sunderland, December 20, 1996

Four months after Beckham's famous lob, United were 4-0 up against Sunderland at Old Trafford when Eric Cantona - in what was to be his final season at the club - collected the ball just inside the Black Cats' half.

The enigmatic Frenchman drove forward in possession, exchanged passes with Brian McClair, and then produced an exquisite chip over the stranded Lionel Perez that clipped the inside of the post on the way in.

He then turned, flipped his collar, and spawned a celebration that would be imitated by United fans everywhere for years to come.

Paul Scholes v Bradford City, March 25, 2000

Paul Scholes has spoken about the understanding he shared with Beckham during their days at United, and that intuition paid off in spades at Valley Parade in 1999-2000.

Beckham sent a corner straight to the edge of the Bradford City penalty area where Scholes was waiting with his hammer of a right foot, which arrowed a volley into the Bradford net with scorching ferocity.

Ruud van Nistelrooy v Fulham, March 22, 2003

Given his reputation as a penalty-area predator, it is understandable that Fulham's defenders might not have taken the threat of Van Nistelrooy running towards them from just inside his own half too seriously.

The Netherlands international had the last laugh, though, waltzing past a host of flat-footed Cottagers before tucking the ball past Maik Taylor with his customary composure.

Paul Scholes v Aston Villa, December 23, 2006

This entire list could feasibly be made up of the gifted midfielder's goals, given his penchant for strikes sent from the heavens.

One of his best was undoubtedly against Aston Villa in December 2006 when he met a cleared corner with a volley that crashed in off the underside of Gabor Kiraly's crossbar.

Cristiano Ronaldo v Portsmouth, January 30, 2008

He can often be wayward from dead balls but when Cristiano Ronaldo gets it right, it is usually a thing of beauty.

His free-kick against Portsmouth in 2008 was a case in point, the Portuguese superstar crashing a free-kick past David James with the kind of speed and accuracy that most players can only dream of.

Wayne Rooney v Manchester City, February 12, 2011

United's all-time leading scorer with 253 goals, Wayne Rooney did not score many as important - or indeed as special - as his overhead kick against Manchester City in February 2011. Combine the two and it is clear to see why this acrobatic volley is regarded as one of the most iconic in Premier League history.

Rooney reacted to a slight deflection off Pablo Zabaleta on Nani's cross by checking his run and sending his shot flying past Joe Hart.

The moment of magic arrived 12 minutes from time at Old Trafford after David Silva's deflected equaliser cancelled out Nani's opener, giving United a 2-1 win and putting their title assault back on track.

Robin van Persie v Aston Villa, April 22, 2013

Brought to Manchester United by Alex Ferguson in August 2012 with the sole aim of wrestling the title back from Manchester City, Robin van Persie did exactly that with 26 Premier League goals in his maiden campaign at Old Trafford.

The Dutchman's flying volley against Aston Villa in April 2013 was the pick of the bunch, with the strike helping to seal his side's 20th league title with four matches to spare in a 3-0 victory.

United were a goal to the good when Van Persie, watching strike partner Rooney's searching ball all the way, smashed an unstoppable left-footed volley past Brad Guzan.

Van Persie scored all three goals at Villa Park that day, but only one of those strikes - one worthy of sealing any title - truly stands the test of time.

Wayne Rooney departed MLS after DC United were humbled by Toronto in extra time of their play-off clash, while defending champions Atlanta United advanced.

Derby County-bound Rooney was helpless as DC suffered a 5-1 defeat to Toronto after extra time in the opening round of the MLS post-season on Saturday.

Former Manchester United and England captain Rooney agreed a player-coach role with Championship outfit Derby in August, ahead of his January return to England.

But Rooney's DC and MLS farewell did not go according to plan after his team conceded four extra-time goals away to Toronto at BMO Field.

A dramatic 93rd-minute equaliser from DC's Lucas Rodriguez had forced extra time after cancelling out Marco Delgado's first-half opener.

However, Toronto erupted in extra time as Jonathan Osorio scored a brace while Richie Laryea and Nick DeLeon were also on target in the first additional period.

Toronto – MLS Cup champions in 2017 – will now face New York City in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Atlanta's hopes of claiming back-to-back MLS titles remain on track after edging New England Revolution 1-0.

Franco Escobar settled the contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where his 70th-minute goal guided Frank de Boer's side to the Eastern Conference semis to play the winner of Philadelphia Union versus New York Red Bulls.

Elsewhere, Seattle Sounders survived a seven-goal thriller as they prevailed 4-3 against Dallas after extra time.

A Jordan Morris hat-trick, completed in the 113th minute, sent the Sounders through to the next round, where they will meet Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference semi-finals after their late 2-1 win over Portland Timbers.

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy has the support of the club after the spat between his wife Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney, manager Brendan Rodgers has said.

Coleen Rooney, wife of England's record goalscorer Wayne Rooney, last week alleged that stories about her personal life had been leaked to a newspaper by someone with access to Rebekah Vardy's Instagram account.

By changing her privacy settings to mean only those logged in on Rebekah Vardy's account could view her Instagram stories, Coleen Rooney said she posted a series of fabricated tales about her personal life which made their way into print.

Rebekah Vardy strenuously denied any involvement in passing on details to The Sun newspaper and hit back at Coleen Rooney.

Rooney was nicknamed 'WAGatha Christie' by British media for the elaborate way in which she claimed to have worked out how the stories reached the public domain.

Rebekah Vardy blamed "various people having access to my insta" and said she was "disgusted" to have to deny involvement at a time when she was heavily pregnant.

The unusual saga came during football's international break. Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy are former England team-mates but have retired from playing for their country.

Rodgers addressed the matter at a news conference on Thursday and said: "It's something that is personal and outside of our remit. All we ever offer is support to the players and their families.

"I was aware of what went on last week. I actually gave Jamie an extra few days away with his family to have a rest and I'm sure that was a difficult week for them. We're here to support him, and his family if they need it."

Rodgers added: "I spoke to Jamie earlier on in the week. He has trained fine and been great this week."

Wayne Rooney, who is also Manchester United's record scorer, will return to English football following his time with MLS team DC United when he joins Championship club Derby County in January.

Jamie Vardy has scored five Premier League goals for Leicester this season, with Rodgers' men riding high in fourth position. They play Burnley on Saturday.

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