Liverpool news: Jurgen Klopp hails Everton star Wayne Rooney ahead of derby | Football | Sport

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“The Liverpool game” was his response as he pointed out his regret of not scoring in the Merseyside derby before he left Goodison Park to join Manchester United in 2004.

Back then the feeling was Rooney would be rejuvenated by returning to his boyhood club and the Toffees would be tussling it out with Liverpool at the top end of the table.

Instead, Everton are struggling, and England and United’s record goalscorer has failed to rediscover his best form after his Old Trafford career fizzled out.

There have been flashes of his finest, last week’s stunning hat-trick against West Ham the standout show among the eight goals scored this season.

But now he is coming up against a red-hot Liverpool rather than the relegation-threatened Hammers, and he will face a much sterner test in the midfield role in which Sam Allardyce has deployed him.

But Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is not overlooking the player who has taken more criticism than most over the latter part of his career, even if he is not the same as he was in his pomp.

“It’s difficult for me to judge because when I was in Germany he was an outstanding big player,” said Klopp. “I have no idea whether there was criticism in England or whether he didn’t get the credit for all the things he did for Manchester United and England. I have no clue.

“Since I’ve been here, he didn’t have the best time at United but he still scored the winner against us. He’s still a fantastic player and he’s shown that. 

“I’m not sure if it’s allowed but I like Wayne Rooney as a person. I’ve always liked him as a player.

“I would be silly not to worry about him. But if you only worry about him that would be another big mistake.”

If Everton are to stand any chance of ending a winless run at Anfield which stretches back to 1999 then Rooney will have to be on his game and possibly deliver that missing Merseyside derby goal.

His eagerness to impress has sometimes got Rooney into trouble on the pitch, but Allardyce has no concerns he will let his emotions get the better of him on his return to this derby.

In fact, he will look to Rooney to ensure there is no fear among his players as they take on Klopp’s in-form side who have smashed in 15 goals in their last three games.

“I know he’s back at Everton, and it’s Everton v Liverpool, but there have been lots of games called Manchester United v Liverpool that he’s been involved in and he has to use that,” said Allardyce. 

“It’s very similar. As an Evertonian he is desperate to do well, as he was when he was at Manchester United and was desperate to beat them then. 

“They have a rivalry and while he was there Manchester United were better than Liverpool for the vast majority of the time. 

“Everton is his club and he can use all that experience to deliver the kind of performance he gave against West Ham, and that would please me an awful lot. It would mean it would give us a chance to create and score a goal with that type of performance.

“We have to do it as a team but we want him to play a big part in that team performance, because he has the ability to create problems. I hope we are not putting too much pressure on him.”



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