England's record appearance-maker Peter Shilton said caps should not be "given out like gifts" after it was announced Wayne Rooney would make a one-off return to the national side.
Rooney, who retired from international football in 2017, will be part of the England squad that faces the United States at Wembley on 15 November.
The match will be called 'The Wayne Rooney Foundation international'.
Shilton said he was "surprised" England boss Gareth Southgate had allowed it.
"I think there are better ways to do it," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "We could have a presentation on the pitch.
"I think if he was picked on merit, fair enough. But I don't think you can give caps out like gifts.
"You have got to be careful it doesn't set a precedent. It's great Wayne's foundation are going to get money from this game, but that is going to happen whether Wayne plays or not."
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Rooney, who now plays for MLS side DC United, had ended his international career with 119 caps and a record 53 goals.
The Football Association said the match against the USA was an opportunity to "honour" the 33-year-old's "record-breaking international career".
Shilton won 125 caps before retiring after the 1990 World Cup, when England reached the semi-finals - just as they did this summer.
"There was terrific spirit within the squad this summer and I don't think Wayne will offer anything different," he said.