England’s John Stones says he was “a bit shocked” that some of the Wembley crowd jeered captain Wayne Rooney in the team’s win over Malta on Saturday.
Rooney, who has scored one goal in 12 games for club and country this season, was barracked by a small section of the 81,000 fans as he played in midfield.
“I thought Wayne was brilliant. He has been every time he has played for England,” said Stones.
Team-mate Jordan Henderson said Rooney “put in a fantastic performance”.
Rooney’s position in the team has been called into question, given the emergence of the likes of Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli in attack, along with the fact that the Manchester United man has been a substitute in his club’s last three games.
But England’s interim manager Gareth Southgate defended Rooney after the 2-0 win in England’s second World Cup qualifier, saying that the criticism was “at times unfair”.
Manchester City defender Stones believes England’s record goalscorer is a victim of his own high standards after scoring 53 goals in 117 appearances for his country.
“He is always up there and on form. The top players are always going to get the stick that gets piled on them because of the standards he sets,” he added.
“He has never dropped that in training once or in the games and I think that’s why he has been a top player for so long.”
Henderson added: “There’s always going to be criticism and we just have to stay together and win games.”
Despite being deployed in a deeper role, 30-year-old Rooney took five shots, the joint-highest total in the team alongside goalscorer Sturridge.
However, he has scored only one goal in his last seven internationals.
England play Slovenia away on Tuesday.
- Read more: “Rooney is increasingly being shoe-horned into England’s plans rather than acting as a fulcrum for a manager’s policy.”
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