Birtles believes it is Rooney's ability to score a variety of goals - just like Sir Bobby Charlton - that has put him in sight of the 1966 World Cup winning legend.
"With his age and ability, he is the one player who can break the record," he told the Manchester Evening News. "Michael Owen should have broken it, but that wasn't his fault - that was the previous manager's.
"He's got everything from the extravagant to the tap-in. Maybe the others didn't have that, which is why Bobby Charlton's record has stood for so long.
"He was the same. He scored from long range, free kicks, headers. He had every goal going as well."