Louis van Gaal insists that Wayne Rooney is still England’s best striker, even ahead of the in-form Harry Kane.
Rooney has struggled with form and injuries this season and some have called for the Manchester United star to be dropped from the England squad for the 2016 European Championship in France in June.
In contrast, Kane has had an outstanding campaign, leading the scoring in the Premier League and contending for Player of the Year honours.
“When you see his (Rooney’s) record, he is the best striker,” United manager Van Gaal told reporters ahead of his side’s league clash with Kane’s title-chasing Tottenham Hotspur.
“Kane is a very good striker but he hasn’t scored yet against us. When I say that I am challenging him also, so it’s not so smart of me.
“It always depends on their form. Normally, Rooney (right) is the best striker but how many has Kane scored in total? That counts for a striker, and also for Wayne.”
Kane has scored 25 goals for Spurs this season, compared to Rooney’s 14 for United.
But Van Gaal believes that Rooney’s return will be a major boost as United attempt to secure a top-four finish and lift the FA Cup.
He revealed that the 30-year-old could even feature in Wednesday’s quarter-final replay at West Ham despite only having two training sessions so far.
“I am counting on him,” Van Gaal added. “I have said that to him already. He has to be fit in the first place. Secondly, I have to compare him with the players who are playing.”