October 11 – It’s been on the cards for a while and now the decision has finally been made. England captain Wayne Rooney, his country’s most-capped outfield player with 117 appearances, has been dropped for tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.
Interim manager Gareth Southgate said the decision was tactical and not a reflection of Rooney’s form but he was jeered by sections of the Wembley crowd during last Saturday;s 2-0 win over Malta and has not started Manchester United’s past three matches.
Tottenham’s Eric Dier will replace Rooney in midfield, with Jordan Henderson captain, and Southgate said: “We have looked at the way Slovenia play and I knew in my mind the profile of the midfield I wanted to play in this game. In no way is it a reflection of Wayne’s performance on Saturday.
“He had a lot of the ball and played with great tactical discipline. It’s not an easy decision to take because of the respect I have for him as the captain of this team.”
Rooney, who has been playing in a deeper role of late rather than as an out-and-out forward, said being dropped by England had not changed his plans to retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Asked if he was surprised to be left out of the starting line-up, he added: “I’ve played 13 years non-stop for England and given everything. A time comes when you’re not the first name on the team sheet, which I have been in the past.”
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