Ray Wilkins: 'Wayne Rooney deserves more respect'

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney in action during the Premier League clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford on January 15, 2017
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Former Manchester United midfielder Ray Wilkins criticises the treatment of Wayne Rooney this season and demands that he be shown more respect.

Former Manchester United midfielder Ray Wilkins has slammed the treatment of club captain Wayne Rooney this season, claiming that he is being used as a "sacrificial lamb".

The 31-year-old's performances have been questioned for a number of years now, but this season he has been little more than a bit-part player under Jose Mourinho, making just nine Premier League starts throughout the entire campaign.

Rooney was once again overlooked when Mourinho opted to bring Anthony Martial on in place of the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic for extra time of United's Europa League win over Anderlecht on Thursday, and Wilkins believes that the England skipper is not being given enough respect.

"He has been so good for Manchester United and so good for English football that I think he needs that little bit of respect and be thrown back in again. What he has done over his career, he's sacrificed himself too much for me. He runs all over the field – he defends, he attacks, he sets up goals, he scores goals," he told talkSPORT.

"Let's not forget he's England's top goalscorer and he's Manchester United's top goalscorer. This guy has been a phenomenal footballer, give him some respect. He's 31 years of age. When Zlatan plays, at 35, he plays in and around his space. He doesn't go charging all over the field and helping his teammates out. Rooney does.

"Rooney is a sacrificial lamb, as far as I am concerned, and I hate it. I would love to see Wayne come back and really be a force once again. The sides that are left in [the Europa League] should be nothing to compare to what Manchester United are. This is what Jose is going for now big time. I think he will win it and I think Manchester United are too good for the rest."

Rooney has scored a club-record 250 goals in 551 appearances for United.

A frustrated Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the Europa League game between Manchester United and Anderlecht on April 20, 2017
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