'Rooney is a winner' – USMNT midfielder Holmes credits England star for helping him take next step

The American has enjoyed playing alongside England’s record goalscorer at Pride Park, and claims his “quality comes out every day”

Duane Holmes has praised Wayne Rooney for helping him to improve his all-around game at Derby County, labelling the veteran midfielder a natural “winner”.

Rooney officially joined the Rams on January 1, having agreed on a move to Pride Park last summer while on the books of MLS outfit DC United.

The 34-year-old has since appeared in five Championship matches, contributing two goals and two assists to help Phillip Cocu’s side start to climb away from the bottom of the table.

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Derby have only lost one of their last ten matches, with Holmes enjoying a prominent role in the middle of the park alongside former Manchester United and Everton talisman Rooney.

The United States international has racked up 25 league appearances for the Rams this season, and he feels he’s been able to take his game up a notch by learning from a man who has enjoyed an illustrious career at the highest level.

“Wayne coming in gives me the freedom for me to get forward more and I feel like I am performing better since he’s come in,” Holmes told Rams TV .

“I think the team are too in general. Having a player like Wayne helps a lot. He’s a winner. He wants to win all the time.

“He gets frustrated when he’s not winning and his quality on the ball comes out every day. It’s good for us to learn off a player like him.”

Holmes went on to express his admiration for Rooney even further, pointing to the playmaker’s superb passing range as a prime example of his “class” on the pitch.

“For the Crystal Palace FA Cup tie last month, we had Wayne and Tom Huddlestone in the hole in midfield and it was like they were having a passing competition,” he said.

“It was great to watch and appreciate how good Wayne is. The crowd love to see the long sweeping passes and the one to Martyn Waghorn against Northampton Town late in the game was a great pass.

“It just shows his class to be able to do that in the 90th minute and as players, we can only get better playing with him.”

Derby sit 13th in the Championship table after 30 fixtures, ten points adrift of Brentford – who currently occupy the final play-off spot.

Cocu’s men must maintain their recent form to keep any hope of a return to the Premier League alive, with a tough trip to Swansea up next on Saturday afternoon.

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