Wayne Rooney “struggles” against the top sides, according to his Everton manager Sam Allardyce.
England’s record goalscorer has been deployed in midfield in recent weeks by Allardyce, and was replaced inside an hour on Saturday as the Toffees ground out a turgid 0-0 draw at home to Liverpool.
Rooney was far from happy with the substitution, clearly venting his frustration as he sat down on the bench, prompting Allardyce to respond in a post-match interview that no player was too big to be taken off.
Allardyce is battling with a paucity of options in central midfield, and concedes that Rooney is likely to come off second-best in games against the better teams.
“I can agree with you, to a certain degree, that Wayne struggles against the very best opposition,” Allardyce said.
“He didn’t play very well in the first half against Manchester City but, before that, he had been outstanding and we had been a little bit short in midfield in recent weeks anyway.
“We talk to the player about that situation, whoever it might be, and say levels have to be lifted.
“And when that continues to happen, no matter who it is, whether it’s Wayne, Phil Jagielka, Tom Davies or whoever, you get left out of the team.”