Merson: Rooney Could Suffer

by Mark Rowan

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Former England star Paul Merson has admitted that he will feel for Wayne Rooney once the new Premiership campaign kicks off next month.

The Blues striker announced his arrival on the world stage in magnificent style last season - scoring spectacular goals and becoming England's youngest ever international.

But following his sensational honeymoon period in top-flight football he now faces 'second season syndrome' and Merson believes one of world footballs hottest prospects could suffer.

He explained: "Everyone gets one free season when they first arrive on the scene. But it's going to be a whole new ball game for Rooney from now on.

"Every time teams are playing Everton the message will be the same - make sure the kid is marked out of the game."

Merson, 35, recently joined first division Walsall nearly 20 years after making his debut for Arsenal as a 17-year-old kid.

But he was 24 before he won his first England cap and he agrees with Blues Boss David Moyes that Rooney should be shielded as much as possible from the hype that surrounds international football.

Merson added: "I'm not giving advice to anyone, not least to Everton manager David Moyes - because I think he is trying to do everything the right way with Rooney.

"But I can understand why he has been getting the hump with the England situation.

"In the last international against Slovakia, when Rooney was taken off, Wayne looked exactly what he is - a 17-year-old.

"Even 32-year-olds can look 17 sometimes when they are playing for England, because it is impossible to be at your best in every game.

"But I do cringe for Rooney next season, I honestly do. I know everyone wants to see him doing well and playing for England.

"But, at the same time, I can't help feeling he's being rushed along too quickly for someone who is still so young."

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