Monday, July 15, 2002
Rooney ready to fill Gazza's shirt
By Colin Wood
Everton boss David Moyes has promised to give the Premiership an early glimpse of Goodison wonderkid, 16- year-old striker Wayne Rooney.
David Moyes: Has a real star in the making.
Moyes is trying to contain the excitement generated by the immense potential of the local discovery, who shot his club to the FA Youth Cup Final last season - but is certain to unleash the promising youngster into the top-flight sooner rather than later.
Rooney was on the bench at Southampton in April a few weeks after leaving school.
He would have become Everton's youngest ever first-team player but for an England call in the European Under 21 championship in Denmark.
He cannot now beat the record of Everton idol and England striker Joe Royle, who was 83 days short of his 17th birthday when he was thrown in at the deep end by then Goodison boss Harry Catterick at Blackpool in January 1966.
But Rooney, who will sign a full contract on his 17th birthday in October, is impressing the seniors at their training camp in Austria and, as a consequence, has been given Paul Gascoigne's old squad number, 18.
Moyes said: 'There are concerns with his age because there are different periods when youngsters tire, but he has done fantastically well up to now. He has worked hard in everything he has done, is in good shape and, as everyone knows now, is a very good football player.
'It is his first time in pre-season as a pro footballer and I think we have to remember and take that factor into account. But with him being such a good talent it would be wrong to keep him away from it because of his age. He is definitely one for the future.'
Moyes was also happy to see striker Duncan Ferguson back in training at the Tirol camp after he missed the first session with a back problem.