Juan Mata defends under-fire Man United captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United playmaker Juan Mata runs rule over Wayne Rooney

Juan Mata has leapt to the defence of under-fire Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney.

The England international has made subdued start to the Premier League season after a return of two goals in 11 top-flight appearances.

Rooney was replaced by Ander Herrera in the second half of United’s 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.

United playmaker Mata, who scored the Red Devils’s second goal in a 2-0 win, issued his backing for his captain ahead of England’s clash against Spain on Friday.

“When we speak about Wayne we’re speaking about the captain of England and my team Manchester United,” Mata told reporters.

“He’s a very important player. He’s scored more goals than anyone in the English national team and at United.

“I know he can play in different positions. At the end it’s [Roy] Hodgson or [Louis] van Gaal who decides, but obviously if he’s close to the box he will score more.”

The 30-year-old Red Devils captain was replaced in the second half of United’s 2-0 win against West Brom at Old Trafford on Saturday.

MORE: Read the latest Man United player tweets

The England international has scored just two goals in 11 Premier League games for the 20-time English champions this season.

Rooney has netted four times in the Champions League this term, including a hat-trick against Club Brugge in the play-off round.

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