WAYNE ROONEY DROPPED FROM ENGLAND SQUAD FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 13 YEARS
These are certainly not the best of times for Manchester United player Wayne Rooney. On the heels of his well documented struggles for his club, it appears his England career is also about to go pear shaped as he was dropped by Gareth Southgate for the game against Sovenia.
Wayne Rooney vowed to fight for his England career regardless as he showed great magnanimity in accepting his National Team manager’s position.
Interim manager Southgate has taken the monumental decision to drop skipper Rooney for Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier here in Slovenia – with Eric Dier taking his place in central midfield.
Rooney’s shock omission comes after weeks of speculation over his role in the England team following a below-par European Championship.
Calls for the Manchester United star to be benched grew louder over the weekend after he turned in an underwhelming display against Malta at Wembley.
But Rooney – who passes the captain’s armband to Jordan Henderson on Tuesday – insists this is not the end of his 117-cap international career.
‘I believe I can come back from this, of course I do,’ insisted Rooney.
‘I am 30 years of age, I am not 35 or 36 where you are thinking: “can you get back from it?”.
‘I will just keep working. I have said before that I will not stop playing for England and then think of going to Dubai for a few days in the international break.
‘I will turn up when called upon and be ready. I’ve never thought: “I don’t need this”, as I keep, saying after the summer it would have been easy for my to walk away and say “that’s it, I’ve had enough” but that’s not me.
‘I feel I have a lot to offer and I’ve made that clear, certainly up until Russia 2018, if we get there. That’s what I want to fulfil.
‘I’m not suddenly going to turn round and say “I’m not playing, I’m not going to turn up” – I know I can be a big help for the other players, whether I’m playing or not, both on and off the pitch.’
Rooney, though, has acknowledged his non-selection does represent a seismic shift in the landscape of his England future.
‘I know this is a big moment, of course it is,’ said Rooney.
‘I am not naive in terms of thinking that I am still a 20-year-old who could do what I could do when I was 20.
‘I understand that. I feel my game is different to that of a 20-year-old, but I also think I have qualities that can help move this team forward.
‘So it is a moment which I am in at the minute.’
On the decision to make Liverpool star Henderson – who was informed of his promotion by Southgate just before they were due to board the plane to Ljubjlana – captain for the night, Rooney added: ‘I think Jordan’s a fantastic leader.
‘He’s took an incredibly difficult job from Steven Gerrard and he’s really grown into that position. He’s a fantastic player with great leadership qualities.’
Despite his huge decision, Southgate was also at pains to stress this is not the end of Rooney in an England shirt.
‘I have not taken a decision for anything other than what we think is the right decision for tomorrow [Tuesday],’ said the England manager.
‘The decision I took at the start was Wayne would be captain and he will remain as captain because he is the outstanding leader in the group.
‘I am very clear that this is the decision I have to make. Sometimes it is far from easy and in this instance it is particularly difficult but that is the job.’
In qualifying his decision to bench Rooney, the 46-year-old added: ‘I think Eric [Dier] and Jordan [Henderson], in terms of their defensive responsibilities, their experience of playing in that role and their athleticism in that position of the field, are going to be asked to do a different type of role than we asked Wayne on Saturday
On Saturday we needed someone with a calm head to control the game and be on the ball all the time.
‘The challenge of the game tomorrow is different and I also have to say I think Eric was our best player in the summer. He’s an outstanding young player and warrants his opportunity to play.’
Meanwhile, Southgate will make a late decision on the fitness of left back Danny Rose, who has slight hamstring problem, for Tuesday’s clash.
England medics are confident Rose will be available from the start but Kieran Gibbs will replace the Tottenham defender if he is deemed unfit.