Wayne Rooney: Derby boss Phillip Cocu says having the England great as captain 'makes sense'

Wayne Rooney with Derby manager Phillip Cocu
Wayne Rooney was handed Derby's captaincy on debut, replacing Curtis Davies as skipper

Naming Wayne Rooney as Derby County captain on his debut was a "logical" choice, says Rams manager Phillip Cocu.

He became Derby's fourth skipper this season when handed the armband at Pride Park against Barnsley on Thursday.

A free-kick from England's all-time top scorer set up Derby's first goal, with the 34-year-old also instrumental in the second to help seal victory.

"He captained the national team in a great career, so for me it makes sense that he captains our team," Cocu said.

The Dutchman said Rooney "played a great game", considering the former Manchester United and Everton forward had "high expectations" placed on him and had not played since leaving MLS side DC United in October.

Rooney signed an 18-month player-coach deal in August, but was only eligible to play in January and Cocu had no hesitation putting him straight in the starting XI.

He made an immediate impact in front of 27,782 at Pride Park, with his free-kick from deep on the left finding Jack Marriot to poke home the opening goal.

The former England captain then played a wonderful cross-field pass in the build up to Martyn Waghorn's goal that won it.

"I was very pleased to see him stay on the pitch for 90 minutes," Cocu told BBC East Midlands Today.

"For most part of the game he played as midfielder because I like his awareness, his vision, where he puts himself on the pitch - he plays in good positions. Then in the last part he was more like a second striker, so he could move a little bit more easier and was freer on the pitch.

"He was very important for our team."

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Rooney 'ready' to adapt to Championship

Cocu also said both Rooney's "leadership and experience" prompted him to change his captain for the third time this season.

He replaced Curtis Davies as skipper, with the defender having taken the job in challenging circumstances following the off-field controversy that marred the early part of the season.

Davies took over from Tom Huddlestone at the end of September as Cocu decided to change captain for the third time in three days, with Huddlestone never leading the Rams on the pitch.

Richard Keogh began the campaign as skipper but the defender was eventually released by the club for his involvement in a car crash which saw Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett plead guilty to drink driving.

"He (Davies) did a good job as a captain at a difficult time and in difficult moments," Cocu, 49, told BBC Radio Derby. "He stepped up and showed good character to lead the team.

"But when a player with the qualities, leadership and experience of Wayne Rooney joins your team it is the logical thing that he will be first captain."