London: England manager Roy Hodgson has tipped Wayne Rooney to surpass Peter Shilton as his country`s most capped footballer ahead of the striker`s 100th international appearance against Slovenia next weekend.
The Manchester United forward will become the ninth player to reach the milestone after Shilton, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Bobby Moore, Ashley Cole, Bobby Charlton, Frank Lampard and Billy Wright.
Rooney will then require a further 26 caps to overtake goalkeeping great Shilton, but with the former Everton player having only turned 29 last month, Hodgson feels it is only a matter of time before he does so.
"If we are generous and give him another five years, which is not beyond the bounds of possibility, he should beat Peter`s record," Hodgson told journalists during a briefing at a London hotel this week.
"He is just 29, so to be honest, players can play so much longer than in the past if they look after themselves. They get so much better treatment."
It is now 12 years since Rooney first strode into the English national consciousness as a fearless 16-year-old by scoring a brilliant last-minute winner for Everton against Arsenal at Goodison Park.
He is now closing on Charlton`s goal-scoring records for both United (249) and England (49), but Hodgson is confident that he has lost none of the fire that once made him one of the world`s most coveted teenagers.
"He is a man who has attracted the headlines over the years, we cannot deny that," said Hodgson, who made Rooney his captain earlier this season.
"It comes from starting a career so early, being branded a wonderkid at 19 when he burst onto the England scene in 2004, with that degree of spotlight on you every year and playing at Man United.
"He has had his fair share in terms of ups and down of press reception, but I think that has hardened him."Hodgson added: "I made an effort to meet him before I was officially appointed in that two-week spell where I was doubling up as West Brom manager (in 2012).
"I was interested in what am I going to meet here? Will it be someone who is burning to play? Or someone who will take it as, `Well, I will do you a favour for a bit longer if it suits me.`
"I met the man who was burning to play, and that is the way he has been all along."
With 43 international goals, Rooney has already etched his name into England history, but Hodgson concedes that he may need to make an impression at a major tournament to truly cement his legacy.
Rooney was named in UEFA`s Team of the Tournament after a series of bravura displays at Euro 2004, but he has since played in four major international competitions without truly leaving a mark.
"I think all players need that. I don`t think it`s specifically him," Hodgson said.
"But as one of the senior citizens in our team, he must obviously see time running out vis-a-vis a Raheem Sterling, a Luke Shaw or a Calum Chambers, who are just starting their journey.
"I`m sure that does go through his mind, but it`s not something we discuss or talk about, that`s for sure."
Hodgson also confessed to exasperation over the media furore he provoked by revealing that Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling had complained of tiredness prior to England`s Euro 2016 qualifying win in Estonia last month.
"Really, the whole story, I really am not inclined to say anymore," he said.
"I don`t mind these press conferences, but there are times when you (journalists) depress me because I am a football person and this has nothing to do with football."