Rams attacker Rooney labelled an 'all-time great' by Luton chief

Wayne Rooney in action for Derby County
Wayne Rooney in action for Derby County

Derby County attacker Wayne Rooney is one of England’s ‘all-time greats’ according to Luton chief Graeme Jones ahead of tonight's clash at Kenilworth Road.

The 34-year-old joined the Rams in January from Major League Soccer side DC United as a player-coach and has made five appearances for Philip Cocu’s side so far, yet to get off the mark.

Previously in his career, Rooney has had no trouble in finding the net, becoming Manchester United’s top goalscorer, with 253 strikes to surpass Bobby Charlton’s record.

He also did so for his country as well, netting 50 goals for the Three Lions, one more than United legend Charlton.

Rooney is now expected to line-up against the Hatters this evening and on facing him, Jones said: “They’ve got some real quality individuals in their team, Tom Huddlestone for one and Wayne Rooney too.

“We’re talking about England’s record goalscorer here, and he can still play, I can assure you.

“He gets between lines, gets on the half turn, he’s still got that vision and awareness and that competitive edge, he’s just been a phenomenal footballer.

“I’ve been privileged enough to have gone up against him, and as an England fan myself, maybe not when I was working for Belgium, the pride in what he did for his country, to break Bobby Charlton’s record was staggering, you’re talking about history.

“We played at Old Trafford in 2009 (with Wigan), and he ran amok, and this was Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United.

“He was phenomenal with his pace and his power, his work-rate and then his quality on top, just one of our country’s all-time greats.”

The Rams have two former Hatters in their ranks as well, centre half Curtis Davies and striker Jack Marriott.

Davies played 62 times for Luton between 2003-2005, leaving in a then club record deal of £3m for West Bromwich Albion.

Marriott netted 28 goals in 91 games until joining Peterborough, moving to Pride Park in July 2018, but has only scored twice in 23 appearances this term.

Jones continued: “Curtis, I had the privilege of meeting him in November.

"Him and Darren Moore (Doncaster manager) are close, so I sort of knew about Curtis from a distance for a while and Darren doesn't get involved with anyone who aren’t good characters.

"You can see that on the pitch, the age he's at, he still gives a really, really good level.”

Going into this evening's fixture, Derby themselves are on a good run, unbeaten in seven with four wins, as they retain an outside chance of the play-offs.

Town meanwhile are now eight points from safety after Stoke City beat Swansea City at the weekend to move further away from the drop, but on whether he was worried about the gap widening, Jones added: “My next port of call is to get a positive result.

"Then when I get a positive result and we get everybody fit and everybody on that pitch, momentum can take you anywhere,

"Sorry for being a bit boring, but I have to look at the next fixture and I have to try and get a positive result first.

"I think we got a positive performance against Forest, certainly for the first half.

"Harry (Cornick) going off hurt us a little bit, and that’s no disrespect to anyone who came on the pitch that day, I just think Harry’s unique in how he plays.

"So the performance was there, we need to continue that level of performance, we need to get a positive result, we need everybody there.

"It’s a big night, we need to take something from the game, a positive result, and then we’ll see where that takes us.”