Roy Hodgson thinks Wayne Rooney left England too early and admits he would have loved to have had the former England captain at Crystal Palace.
Rooney left the Premier League to join MLS side DC United in June after just one season back at his boyhood club Everton.
The 32-year-old has thrived in the US capital and scored a spectacular free-kick winner against Toronto earlier this week to take his tally to 10 goals in 18 appearances.
The win sent the DC United four points clear in the final play-off place having been bottom of the Eastern Conference when Rooney arrived.
Hodgson knows all about Rooney’s abilities, having worked with the former Manchester United striker during his four years in charge of England.
The Eagles boss isn’t surprised at the impact he is having in the US but feels he’s still good enough to play in the Premier League.
“He left England too early, “ Hodgson told reporters. “He still has much to offer.
“There is no doubt the talent he has, showing he could still play top-level English football.
“But it was his decision and after Manchester United and Everton, where he had tremendous affinity, deep roots, maybe he would not have been that interested in playing for another English club outside those two.
“It was a conscious decision to play abroad. I have a great deal of respect for Wayne, and I think he does for me.”
Hodgson admits he would have jumped at the opportunity to work with Rooney again at Selhurst Park but is pleased he is making a success of his move to the States.
“I would have loved him here at Palace, but he thought long and hard about his decision, and without a shadow of doubt would have talked it over with his family.
“I am delighted to see what success he is having. I guess he is doing what DC United were really hoping for when they signed him.
“They just didn’t want a figurehead but also a player who can win them matches, and he has done that.
“He is doing fantastically well. At DC they were well down in the league when he got there, although they hadn’t played too many games, but since he’s arrived he has been fantastic, not just scoring goals, but decisive goals, like the one we saw in midweek.”