Rooney reflects on long-awaited Rams bow

Derby County

Wayne Rooney says he was pleased to finally end his watching brief and get out on the pitch for new club Derby County.

Rooney’s return to English football was announced back in August but he was only eligible to make his playing debut for the Rams in Thursday’s Championship clash with Barnsley.

The Manchester United and Everton legend has been in and around the Derby squad since the end of October and was relieved to finally pull on a shirt and get back playing again after watching from the stands or dugout in recent weeks.

He told the Derby website: “It was nice [to be back out on the pitch]. I’ve been training for a long time now so it’s always nice to get back out on the pitch.

“I felt good and the most important thing for us was the three points.”

Rooney admitted he was a little rusty in the 2-1 win but he showed his quality by swinging in the free-kick for Jack Marriott to finish from close range, while he also had a hand in the build-up to the second goal, scored by Martyn Waghorn.

It’s thought boss Philip Cocu will try to keep the 34-year-old as fit and fresh as possible for the second half of the season by restricting his minutes at times, but he lasted the full 90 against the Tykes and admitted afterwards he is eager to play again on Sunday when the Rams go to Premier League side Crystal Palace in the FA Cup third round.

Rooney added: “Everyone that knows me knows that I want to play in all the games. I will recover well now – it’s a quick turnaround – and I will have a good recovery session and be ready for Sunday.”