Sir Alex Ferguson believes Wayne Rooney is capable of lighting up the World Cup for England this summer.

The Manchester United striker has had mixed experiences of major tournaments in his career to date and the 24-year-old will be determined to lay down a positive marker in South Africa.

Wayne Rooney | Man Utd

Rooney burst onto the international scene at Euro 2004, scoring four goals in the group stages, before a fractured metatarsal ended his tournament in the quarter-final against Portugal.

Two years later at the World Cup in 2006 having battled back from injury to be fit for the second group game the former Everton ace saw red against the Portuguese in the last eight.

However his United boss is convinced he can be one of the leading lights this time around.

“Rooney is capable of being the star of the World Cup,” he said.

Fantastic talent

“I think he’s a growing player. He is young and I have seen his development in the last few years. He’s a fantastic player.

“Over the years the World Cup has always produced a player who gets the platform to become famous because of his performances – he becomes the player of the tournament.

“His whole career is celebrated because of his performances. Rooney is capable of doing that.”

Despite Rooney successfully accepting the goalscoring burden left by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer – the frontman has 14 Premier League goals already this term – Ferguson admits the champions miss the Portuguese winger.

“Of course we miss him,” the Scot confessed.

“He’s a great personality. He’s a great player. He was with us for six years. That was the best we could do for him.”