Date: 7th October 2012 at 10:34am
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Gary Neville believes a sharper and leaner Wayne Rooney could emulate Ryan Giggs and make a huge number of appearances for the club and has placed him in the same class as greats like Bryan Robson and Roy Keane.

At the season’s start there were questions over Wayne Rooney’s future, the introduction of Shinji Kagawa and Robin Van Persie made it appear that that he could be surplus to requirement.

His performance against Everton in the opening game of the season was widely panned seeing him dropped to the bench, and when he came on against Fulham 5 weeks ago he suffered a gash to his leg that kept him out for weeks.

Neville believes that inury was a blessing in disguise though as it allowed him to get properly fit after his pre season was disturbed by Euro 2012.

In an excerpt from his column in The Daily Mail, the former United right back said:

“The way he looks now, it could just be that the injury against Fulham has helped to set him up for the season.

“And with the kind of physiological back-up and advice he has at United, there’s no reason to think he can’t go on and join the likes of Giggs in making 700 appearances for the club.”

Neville feels that Kagawa and Van Persie may have taken Rooney out of his comfort zone and coupling this with the striker’s natural desire to win, has refocused the England international and puts him in the same category as some Great Britain and Ireland’s great players from the past few decades:

“When he started in the Capital One Cup against Newcastle 11 days ago, I saw a lean, fit, sharp player bristling with energy and aggression, like the street kid he once was.

“And he showed the same again when he came on against Tottenham last Saturday before those two great passes for Robin van Persie in the week against FC Cluj.

“Footballers are at their best when life is uncomplicated and all they have to think about is the ball, the pitch and themselves and Wayne is no different. He lives for football, loves winning matches and plays with an edge of aggression because every tackle, every challenge matters to him.

“In fact, he is perhaps one of the last of a dying breed of footballers in the mould of Roy Keane, Bryan Robson, Steven Gerrard and Tony Adams: players with enormous ability in their respective position but who have been formed by the upbringings in England and Ireland and by the British game to fight for every last cause.

“There is brutality about him in his need to win, even in the comments he will make to team-mates. He expects everything to be of the highest standard and he will let you know if it isn’t.”

Will Rooney’s good form continue against Newcastle? Read our preview here