Curle eulogises about 'wonderful' Wayne Rooney but hopes he DOESN'T start for Derby against Cobblers in FA Cup
Keith Curle does not want to see Wayne Rooney's name in Derby County's starting line-up when he receives the official team sheets for tomorrow's FA Cup tie at the PTS.
Rooney made headline news when Derby announced his signature as player-coach at the start of the season, though he didn't officially join the club until January.
The 34-year-old, England and Manchester United's record goalscorer, is the headline act for Friday's cup tie at the PTS - which would be his second appearance at the ground after playing for Manchester United in 2016 - but Rams boss Phillip Cocu could spoil the party by leaving him out of the side.
So, with his team's chances of progressing to the next round in mind, does Curle want Rooney in or out of the Derby team?
"Out! A million percent," he said. "Going back to my days when I played, I wouldn't mind playing against him but in those days we were allowed to tackle!
"When he's on the pitch, your goal is always accessible. He's a great talent and a marvel to watch, His instinctive play, the ability he has and the enthusiasm of how he plays the game is wonderful.
"That's what he's bringing into Derby County now. He will raise the standards of that football club and the individual there because the players will want to impress Wayne Rooney.
"Don't be surprised if our players want to get close to Wayne Rooney because it'll be an opportunity for them to get a picture in the paper of them competing on the same pitch as Wayne Rooney."
Despite his remarkable success since breaking through at Everton as a 16-year-old, Rooney has always had to win over doubters throughout his career, whether with England or United.
But there's little chance of Curle underplaying his ability should he start on Friday.
He added: "Because of the ability he's got, people have asked what is his best position - is he a 10? Can he play as a false nine? Can he play up front on his own? Can he play in midfield?
"You can build a team around Wayne Rooney in whatever system you want to play because he's got natural ability and there are so many things he can do with the football and the vision he's got of the pitch. He can play wherever he wants.
"He joined Man United at the right time because there was some very good players there that gave him the education he needed as a professional. The timing was perfect for him to join the club and Sir Alex Ferguson was a mentor for him.
"Wherever Wayne goes, he's going to get attention but he's used to that throughout his life and his career and he knows how to conduct himself.
"Most importantly, the lad still has the passion to play football and to perform and I think that's admirable. You can still see his enthusiasm and he wants to play and he wants to win."