LONDON: Wayne Rooney’s international career looks over after England’s all-time topscorer was yesterday left out of the squad for next month’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland and a friendly in France. The 31-year-old striker has lost his place at Manchester United and was similarly omitted from Gareth Southgate’s England squad announced in March, although he was carrying a knee injury at the time.
Fit-again Rooney, who made a brief appearance in Manchester United’s Europa League final win over Ajax in Stockholm on Wednesday, had hoped to end his international career by captaining England at next year’s World Cup in Russia. But this now looks an increasingly forlorn hope for Rooney, England’s record goalscorer with 53 goals and their most capped outfielder with 119 appearances for his country. His United career could also be over having fallen down the pecking order under manager Jose Mourinho. “We have a lot of players playing exceptionally well in the area of the pitch that Wayne plays,” Southgate told thefa.com. “I said last time (in March) that he was a bit short of matches-he’s had some matches now but we’ve got players that have done really, really well for us in Adam Lallana and Dele Alli. “I can’t dress it up any other way-other players are in really good form and deserve to keep their place.”
Southgate did not rule out entirely a recall for Rooney, who is three years younger than veteran striker Jermain Defoe, who has been retained despite Sunderland’s desperate season seeing them relegated. “You never write off a player of Wayne’s quality and I’m sure that, next season, he’ll be back to playing,” said Southgate. “He’s finished the season a bit better and I’m sure he’ll take that into next year.”
SOUTHGATE PROTECTS RASHFORD
Yesterday’s squad announcement saw Southgate opt for the likes of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford and Defoe in attack. The 19-year-old Rashford, who started for United against Ajax, has inherited the mantle of “teen sensation” that used to belong to Rooney and his inclusion in the senior squad means he will not feature for the England under-21s in this year’s age-group European Championships.
Southgate said it was to protect him from early burnout that he had prevented the pacy forward going to the under-21 tournament. “He’s in the senior squad on merit and has been for a year. The question then is: could he have gone with the under-21s after that? In my opinion, no,” said Southgate. “He’s a 19-year-old player who’s had an exceptional season and by then will have had virtually 60 matches by that point. “Somebody has to protect him. Somebody has to manage the development of a young player, and that has to be my call.” Kane’s call-up is the first time the Premier League’s golden boot winner has been included in one of Southgate’s England squads, with the Tottenham Hotspur striker having missed all six of the manager’s previous matches in charge through injury. England face oldest rivals Scotland in a World Cup qualifier at Glasgow’s Hampden Park on June 10 before travelling to Paris for a friendly three days later. —AFP