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Sam Allardyce dismisses Anfield fear factor: ‘We’ve got Wayne Rooney’

Everton have not won at Anfield since 1999 but their manager believes 32-year-old forward can be crucial to their hopes of ending their dire run of derby form

Anfield has become a place of foreboding for Evertonians irrespective of their team’s startling decline this season and Liverpool’s prolific form. But not for Wayne Rooney. This is the game the former England captain has been waiting for since rejoining his boyhood club in July and he is the reason Sam Allardyce believes Everton should not enter the 229th Merseyside derby with fear.

“Liverpool,” said Rooney, without hesitation or mention of Manchester United, when asked in the summer what fixture he was most looking forward to back in royal blue. Rooney has never scored in a Merseyside derby. Hitting Chris Kirkland’s crossbar and not the back of the net in a goalless draw in December 2002 was as close as he came before leaving for Old Trafford and remains one of his biggest regrets. It is his mentality and intelligence on the ball, however, not his continued eye for goal, that Rooney’s new manager is relying on for Sunday’s trip across Stanley Park.

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