Merseyside Insider: Wayne Rooney tips Ross Barkley for the top, Manchester United v Liverpool excitement builds and John Stones faces pursuers Chelsea

What’s been happening in the world of football on Merseyside this week? Jennifer Atherton gives us the scoop . . .

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Record-breaker Roo backs Barkley

Unless you’ve paid no attention to the internationals or the papers this week, you will be well aware that Wayne Rooney became England’s top scorer on 50 goals. The former Everton forward became the subject of many a fierce discussion, not just in Merseyside but across the country, after surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 49. While it was a massive achievement, Rooney believes another Toffees academy graduate has the potential to beat his record: Ross Barkley. The Manchester United ace reckons the 21-year-old is among a few in the current crop who could outdo him at international level. Rooney is not done yet for his country, though – and Barkley has a tough act to follow.

Rank decision

The Fifa 16 rankings were released this week and Liverpool fans were surprised not to see any of their players in the top 50 of the game. Many were hoping that Reds star Philippe Coutinho at least would represent their club but unfortunately he didn’t make it. Former Anfield hitman Luis Suarez is in there at number three, however, just to add salt into the wounds for fans! Bizarrely, captain Jordan Henderson, who sits alongside Lionel Messi on the cover of this year’s game after winning an online vote, is only Liverpool’s 10th best player.

Red hot anticipation

Merseyside is always buzzing before a Manchester United v Liverpool encounter, and while neither side’s been at their best in the last couple of years, it doesn’t make this fixture any less exciting or competitive. Ahead of one of the most highly-contested matches of the season, Reds fans are worried about the loss of their suspended Coutinho and how it will affect their performance. With a late kick-off on Saturday – the latest in over a decade – the stakes will be even higher come 5.30pm; and I’m sure it will be a game most of us on Merseyside will be glued to our televisions for.

Game of Stones

John Stones is still an Everton player, despite the transfer window interest from Chelsea. Are supporters happy about that? Of course they are. Now what better way for Stones to show his commitment and professional attitude than with a great performance against the club that tried to lure him away from Goodison Park? Evertonians are hoping the champions will come up against Stones at his very best on Saturday, and given their rivals’ current run of form, most are positive of getting a good result at home. After last season’s fixture finished 6-3 to Chelsea, it will hopefully be another exciting game at Goodison – only this time ending in Everton’s favour!

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