Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson does not expect Wayne Rooney to be in a rush to stop his playing career as he prepares to come up against his former England captain in the FA Cup.
The 34-year-old made his debut for Sky Bet Championship side Derby on Thursday night, having agreed an 18-month player-coach deal with the Rams back in August and after finishing his spell with DC United.
Rams boss Phillip Cocu has installed Rooney as captain for the 2-1 win over Barnsley, hoping the former Everton and Manchester United forward can use his experience to bring the young squad on.
Hodgson made Rooney skipper of the England team following Steven Gerrard’s international retirement after the 2014 World Cup.
The 72-year-old, who left the England job following Euro 2016, sees no reason why Rooney cannot continue to make an impact on the pitch.
“It’s nice to see him back in English football, embarking on what will eventually be a new career in coaching and management when he decides the time has come to stop playing,” Hodgson said ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie against Derby at Selhurst Park.
“Knowing Wayne as I do I wouldn’t expect him to be making that decision too soon.
“I know how much he loves to play, and obviously he is still a very good footballer so I would be expecting him to help Derby as a player for a period to come.
“It will be nice to see him at the game of course, I have not seen that much of him since he went to America.”
It remains to be seen whether Rooney will feature at Selhurst Park, having played the full 90 minutes and helped set up both goals.
Hodgson said: “Players you have worked with do have that terrible propensity to come back and bite you where you least want to be bitten, but that is something unfortunately which one has to live with as a coach.”
Defender Mamadou Sakho has added to Palace’s growing injury list, suffering a hamstring problem during the 1-1 draw at Norwich on New Year’s Day.
Wilfried Zaha will be monitored after carrying an injury into the game, which could see academy forward Brandon Pierrick drafted in to the side along with striker Connor Wickham.
The former Ipswich and Sunderland forward came off the bench to score a late equaliser against Norwich, given following a VAR review after he was initially flagged offside.
Hodgson hopes the 26-year-old will stay fully fit after a frustrating run of injury setbacks.
“It is good that he has had a spell now of a good month where he has been training regularly,” the Palace boss said at a press conference.
“It was somewhat ‘fairytale like’ that he came on for the last 30 minutes against Norwich and when he was able to get that chance, he scored the equaliser – which was his first goal for the club in over three years.”