Sir Geoff Hurst insists England could have recognised Wayne Rooney’s incredible international career without handing him his 120th cap against the United States.
The DC United striker has been called up as a one-off in praise of his contribution to the Three Lions for the Wembley friendly.
The decision by Gareth Southgate has divided opinion with claims it devalues the international cap and even blocks an opportunity for another player who could contribute in the next tournament.
And Sir Geoff insists the former Manchester United star deserves to be celebrated – though he would have preferred The FA to do so in a non-playing capacity.
"There’s a new enthusiasm to watch the national team," explained Sir Geoff. "I think there’s a lot of interest in these games to see who turns up. The support has always been good, it adds something.
"I think there’s a balance to be had [regarding Rooney’s inclusion in the squad]. It’s important to recognise our greatest players and perhaps they haven’t been so much in the past.
"But I think a send-off can be done without playing. A lot of things could have been done. There are pluses and minuses obviously.
"For younger players, to see in training what can be done with hard work.
"But there’s a balance to be had. I don’t think it’s correct to play the whole game. He could perhaps be recognised without playing the game.
"The minus is that it restricts an opportunity for another younger player to be involved."
Jadon Sancho has been called up again following his meteoric rise in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund. And Sir Geoff is thrilled by the former Manchester City starlet’s progress and urged other English talent to follow the 18-year-old’s lead.
"It’s a great opportunity to go to Germany and play, learn German. It’s a fabulous opportunity," claimed Sir Geoff.
"It’s a big step even for a senior player. I would always recommend it.
"For a young player to have the nerve and the desire is fantastic and then they can come back as seasoned internationals.
"I think there’s an argument that they [foreign players] have greater technique. We are starved of that technical player, like [Luka] Modric, or David Silva. So they can become more rounded as an individual [by playing abroad].
"It’s a fantastic step forward, not just in the long-term but in the immediate future too. I’d have jumped at it myself."
Sir Geoff Hurst was speaking on behalf of Grosvenorsport.com . England’s 1966 World Cup winner is an ambassador for Grosvenor Goals , the free to play game which challenges punters to correctly pick ten first goalscorers in the Premier League for the chance to win £1MILLION.
To keep up to date with Sir Geoff’s Grosvenor Goals selections, follow @GrosvenorSport on Twitter.
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