London (AFP) – England captain Wayne Rooney is in line to be dropped to the bench for the World Cup qualifier away to Slovenia on Tuesday, several British media outlets reported Monday.
The BBC said that, in the absence of any last-minute injuries, interim manager Gareth Southgate would leave Rooney, now among the substitutes as England look to preserve their perfect record.
Rooney, England’s all-time leading goalscorer, started but did not score in England’s 2-0 win over Malta at Wembley on Saturday and was booed by some sections of the home support during a lacklustre display.
Former England captain Alan Shearer has led calls for Rooney to be dropped.
Best known as a forward, the 30-year-old Rooney has only been a substitute for Manchester United’s last three matches.
Southgate said after the Malta match he was “very pleased” with Rooney’s performance.
But asked whether he would be prepared to take a decision as significant as benching Rooney, also England’s most-capped outfield player, he replied: “There’s a lot of hypothetical parts to the question, but whenever we pick a team, we select a team we feel is right for the game.
“Given the number of chances we created, I don’t think we were far away from that.
He also said: I’ve got to make decisions which are right for the team and whenever you select a team, with England, you’re going to leave some (players disappointed).
“You look at the bench (against Malta) and there are guys that are playing every week in the Premier League for their clubs and so you have to be prepared to do that, that’s part and parcel of the job.”
Southgate added he was not overly concerned that Rooney had been left out of United’s recent starting sides.
“I think at this moment in time that’s irrelevant,” said former England defender Southgate.
“Part of that is because we’ve got 30 percent of the Premier League eligible for England. Of that, some don’t want to play; of that, some aren’t good enough to play.
“And you’ve got a captain who is desperate to lead on and off the field and continues to make an outstanding contribution to that group of players.
“So that was why he was selected. What’s happening at Manchester United for this week is not as important.”
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