Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is a sacrificial lamb, according to Ray Wilkins.
The Red Devils managed to progress to the Europa League semi-finals after a hard-fought extra-time victory over Anderlecht on Thursday.
However, Rooney didn’t make it onto the Old Trafford pitch as Jose Mourinho opted for the pace of Anthony Martial, off the bench, when striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic limped off injured.
Former United captain Roy Keane labelled the snub as ‘the final nail in the coffin’ for Rooney’s career at the club and, speaking to the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, Wilkins believes the England international deserves far more 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,” he said.
“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.
“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 former Chelsea and United midfielder also spoke about the Red Devil’s chances in the Europa League now that they have reached the last four.
“The sides that are left in it should be nothing to compare to what Manchester United are,” Wilkins added.
“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.”