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Red Dragon Pembridge to face Rooney

last updated Saturday 09th October 2004, 9:24 AM
Wales and Fulham Mark Pembridge

Wales and Fulham Mark Pembridge

Any hopes the Welsh dragon has of overcoming St George will hinge on one player negating the influence of another almost young enough to be his son.

When Wayne Rooney takes to the Old Trafford pitch today, Mark Pembridge is expected to be marshalling him.

Pembridge is 15 years Rooney's senior but saw the precocious teenager grow from a fledgling youth-team player to one of the game's best young talents at Everton during his four years at the club.

Rooney was just four when Pembridge left Merthyr Tydfil to begin his professional career at Luton before spells at Derby, Sheffield Wednesday, Benfica, Everton and his current club, Fulham.

Pembridge, 34 next month, has proved dependable at international level. He is a danger at dead-ball situations, telling in the tackle and his days on Everton's Bellefield training pitches alongside Rooney will prepare him for a fascinating clash.

Wales manager Mark Hughes admitted yesterday he would be looking forward to seeing Rooney in action - if it was not for the fact that he has to find a way to stop him.

"Wayne Rooney is a fantastic talent; I think everybody understands that," said Hughes. "Taking my Welsh shirt off and speaking as a football fan, I really enjoy watching him play. He is an explosive talent and we are aware of the threat he poses.

"The place where he is more comfortable is on a football field. He has a great attitude towards the game and is very positive in everything he does."

Taking care of Rooney could be a tough assignment for Pembridge but Hughes wants all his players to take the chance to show their mettle.

"It's important to make your mark in football," he added. "Every player in the squad is a man of means with a reasonable amount of money. But as a player you get to the level when it's not about monetary value, it's about what you've done in the game and matches like this present opportunities for players."

Pembridge will be sitting in front of the back four.

Source The Daily Telegraph by John Ley
Since 1998
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