CHERRIES boss Scott Parker admitted he expected an “interesting” battle when he took on former England teammate Wayne Rooney in the technical area on Sunday (noon).

Parker’s England debut came in November 2003, during the same side as Rooney in a friendly for the Three Lions against Denmark at Old Trafford.

More than 18 years on, the pair will go head-to-head as promotion-chasing Cherries face Rooney’s struggling Derby.

The Rams were this week deducted another nine points for breaches of the EFL's Profitability and Sustainability rules.

Asked whether he ever thought the pair would go toe-to-toe in the dugout, Parker said: “Not this early probably.

“I probably suspected certainly the way Wayne is and I was, it was something we would have gone into.

“When I was with Wayne, I saw someone who was diligent or would have gone into coaching but I think it’s fair to say that both of us at such young ages, I didn’t expect us to probably be against each other on the side line at this present moment in time.

“I’m looking forward to it. Wayne as a player was an incredible player, but it will be interesting and I am certainly looking forward to seeing him.”

Asked what it was like to come up against Rooney, as well as playing alongside him for his country, the Cherries head coach replied: “Playing with him was a lot better than playing against him! It goes without saying, he was an unbelievable player really.

“I came up against him many a time and many a time he was a nemesis, or I was on the end of him scoring goals or winning games against us.

“With him, he was a pleasure to play with. Someone who at any moment in any game could turn it around and score goals.

“He had unbelievable ability in anything he did, he was a player who I looked at, could play numerous positions in that sense.

“He had every technical ability, could play as a midfielder or certainly I’d see him as someone who would be comfortable playing in the middle of the park.

“Then of course, what we knew him for was his ability to score goals and the quality he brought really.

“It was a pleasure from both sides really. You always respect someone’s quality, even when you are against them – certainly playing with him was brilliant as well.”

Rooney has been given a baptism of fire in his first managerial position at Pride Park. His side are now 18 points adrift of safety and sit rock bottom of the pile.

And despite having a lot of respect for Parker, the former Manchester United and Everton star is targeting three points against the league leaders.

Rooney said: “He’s a very clever man, Scott.

“He’s a very calm man as well and he’s a very nice man, one of the nicest men you’ll meet and who I did meet in football.

“I am pleased for him, for the job he’s doing.

“But on Sunday, come 12 o’clock we will be rivals and I want to win the game. Then I am sure we will speak after.”