Post categories: Football Paul Fletcher | 07:05 UK time, Thursday, 10 December 2009 Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney plays for arguably the biggest football club in the world and at a stadium that holds more than 76,000. A shade over 23 miles down the road from Old Trafford, Rooney's younger brother, John, is carving out a career of his own at the rather more modest surrounds of Moss Rose, the home of League Two side Macclesfield Town. The potential of the 18-year-old, who turns 19 on 17 December, has not gone unnoticed this season, with scouts flooding in great numbers to watch the youngster with the famous surname. Rooney has impressed with his dedication and attitude Macclesfield manager Keith Alexander recently told me that one definite bid has already been tabled for the player while he has received numerous enquiries from other clubs. "People are looking at him every week," said Alexander. "We will do well to hang on to him in January and I would be surprised if my phone is not red hot." One of the clubs keen to sign him is rumoured to be Southampton - and although it is unknown how much Macclesfield would get for Rooney, it would almost certainly be a handsome return on the calculated gamble they took back in March 2007. Rooney Jr arrived at Moss Rose after being released by Everton. Toffees scout Frank Sharp recommended him to Town but it was immediately obvious that there would be a lot of work to do. "John was in his last year at school," Town youth team manager John Askey told me. "He was slightly overweight to say the least." Askey talked to Rooney's school, De La Salle in Croxteth, and arranged for the 16-year-old to train with Macclesfield's youth team twice a week. By the summer Rooney had impressed enough to earn a two-year scholarship. "As soon as you looked at him in training you could see that he loved the game - he was football daft," said Askey. "He worked his socks off and his mum was a big help with his diet, making sure that he was eating the right things." Askey and centre of excellence manager Mick Holgate monitored his body fat every month and constantly set him new targets. Rooney always showed good stamina but they devised drills to improve his speed over the crucial first 10 yards. "We helped him get fit and so did his family but he wanted to do it, he has reaped the rewards since and all credit to John for that," said Askey. Rooney's attitude and dedication ensured that after the first year of his scholarship he was offered a professional contract and signed a two-year deal in July 2008. But there was obviously more to Rooney than the application he had shown to achieve the required fitness. His ability had been obvious to Askey from the very beginning. "John has got a fantastic touch, that and his passing ability is the best I have seen for someone of his age," said Askey. "Then there is his awareness - in terms of his footballing brain he is streets ahead of a lot of other players." Remind you of anyone? Alexander took over as first-team manager in February 2008 and immediately noticed Rooney and Shaun Brisley, who has gone on to establish himself as a regular in Town's backline. Within a month of his arrival, he had handed Rooney his debut in a 3-0 win over Barnet. And the Macclesfield boss echoed Askey's description of Rooney's attributes. He was fulsome in his praise of the work Rooney does to maintain his fitness, stating: "I have no qualms at all about how well he looks after himself in his private life and he is always first on the training pitch and last off regardless of the weather." Alexander also pointed to Rooney's ability to spot a pass and described his best position as either just behind the strikers or as part of a three-man midfield. Both Askey and Alexander pointed to a similarity between Wayne and John in terms of their on-field behaviour. "He has a good temperament, very much like his brother - he gets mad and angry with everybody, including himself," is how Alexander put it. Askey reckons: "He has that fiery will to win at all times and sometimes he gets frustrated with other players because he can see things that they don't." Comparisons between the two brothers are to an extent unfair as Wayne is one of the most talented English players of his generation. But Askey was candid enough to admit that even though Wayne is hardly renowned for his pace, he at least has a turn of speed that his younger brother does not possess. Alexander pointed to physique as another difference. Wayne has amply demonstrated his ability to look after himself but, in contrast, John is slight in build. Older brother Wayne is an international superstar "When we have the sort of game that is away from home, played in atrocious conditions and against a team packed with big 'uns in the middle of midfield, it doesn't suit John," said Alexander, who has shown a willingness this season to protect Rooney. The Macc boss describes Rooney as two-footed but wants him to work on his finishing, thus ensuring that he can capitalise on the positions that he has the ability to ghost into. And as much as it cannot be easy when your older brother is a man on whom many of England's World Cup hopes rest, John must learn to manage his own expectations. "He wants to succeed and there is no harm in that whatsoever but he has such high hopes for himself and I think he puts himself under a lot of pressure," said the Macc boss. Askey reckons that Rooney, who at one point moved in with his older brother in Prestbury to cut down on travelling, has the type of qualities that will flourish when he plays at a higher level. He also thinks that the Rooney surname is both a curse and a blessing - it helps to get John noticed but puts pressure on the youngster to deliver the goods. Rooney Jr, who is apparently extremely uncomfortable in front of the media, has, in contrast to his brother, so far had a relatively low-key start to his career. He has made slightly more than 30 first-team appearances (including an FA Cup tie against Everton) and scored four goals. Nonetheless his combination of talent and hard work seems certain to elevate Rooney to a higher level in January. Askey expressed the hope that, although he may not go on to play Premier League football, John will fulfil his potential. Whether or not that means he will ever move out of his brother's considerable shadow remains to be seen - but if everything I have heard about the younger Rooney is true, it will not be for the want of trying.