Wayne Rooney is set to be benched by Gareth Southgate for England’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia on Tuesday night. The Three Lions’ new manager is still trying to figure out his preferred 11 as they look to improve on a lackluster 2-0 victory against Malta at Wembley on Saturday. Sports Rants reported on Rooney’s position in the England setup being under threat ahead of the European Championships in France over the summer.
England overcame Malta 2-0 in a dour contest at Wembley on Saturday with two first-half goals seeing off the visitors, who are ranked 176th in the FIFA rankings. Sections of the crowd booed Rooney and England on Saturday, with Rooney admitting on Monday evening that he is currently “in a difficult period” in his career. Jordan Henderson will lead England out on Tuesday evening, with Rooney retaining his role as squad captain for the foreseeable future.
Rooney’s position has been under intense scrutiny since England’s acrimonious departure from Euro 2016 after their shock 2-1 loss to Iceland. As captain, Rooney has caused his managers at national and club level many a headache as they look to try and implement him into their team. His manager at Manchester United, Jose Mourinho, benched him against Leicester City last month and saw his team record their most convincing victory under their new boss, defeating the current Premier League champions 4-1.
For the mean time, Southgate has moved to ensure that there is no lingering doubts about his captain’s future in the England set-up and insisted that his omission was purely tactical. “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,” Southgate said. The former Middlesbrough manager is set to play Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier in the centre of midfield.
The United striker was full of praise for his stand-in and believes that his captaincy of Liverpool will stand him in good stead to lead the Three Lions out on Tuesday evening. “I think Jordan is a fantastic leader. He has taken a difficult job from Steven Gerrard at Liverpool and grown into the position. He has great leadership qualities and he deserves his chance. It will be an incredibly proud moment for him and his family.”
Henderson, however, was full of praise for his national captain and stressed that he was merely standing in for the striker. “Wayne is very experienced and for me he has been one of the best players in the world for many years and he sets an example to all of us on and off the field. He is someone we all look up to as a captain and a leader for his experience and the type of person that he is”, said Henderson. The former Sunderland player has experience in captaining England, taking the armband as Under 21’s skipper from 2011 to 2o13. In what could be a potential litmus test for Henderson’s future prospects as England captain, the show will go on with or without Rooney.