Mourinho admits Rooney situation is 'very difficult' as Man Utd skipper nears end

The striker may be the all-time leading scorer for the Red Devils and England, but he is no longer a guaranteed starter for club or country

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has hailed Wayne Rooney’s attitude, but admitted that managing him through the latter years of his time at Old Trafford is “very difficult”.

The 31-year-old is already assured of a place in Old Trafford and English folklore, as the all-time leading goalscorer for club and country.

He has, however, seen his game time dwindle this season, with a starting berth no longer guaranteed.

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Mourinho acknowledges that iconic figures can find such situations difficult to handle, but has been impressed by Rooney’s professionalism and continued dedication to the cause.

The Portuguese coach told Omnisport: "It's very difficult because during my career I had this kind of situation of getting players – amazing players with amazing history – in the last period of their career.

"When you get players in the last part of their careers, the players with the big history in the club – and I had that everywhere, I had that in Inter, I had that at Real Madrid, I had that at Chelsea.

Jose Mourinho Wayne Rooney Manchester United

"Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, to have them – and in my case I had them in the best period of their career – and then when I returned the second time, I had them in their last period of their career. How difficult it is.

"And sometimes, the players understand the situation. Sometimes the players still feel they are 24, 25 and it's very difficult. The good thing with Wayne is that he's a very club man. He's very club man. And if he is frustrated, he hides it. If he is not happy, he hides it. He behaves in the best possible way.

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"And when he's not injured, he's always available. And in fact now, I need him. I need him back because we have so many problems."

Rooney has still made 37 appearances in all competitions this season and could have two more to take in.

United will bring the curtain down on their Premier League campaign at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday before turning their attention to a Europa League final date with Ajax in Stockholm.