Monday 24 July 2017

Wayne Rooney expected to miss out on England squad as international career comes to an end

Rooney has been a peripheral figure for United for most of this season. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Rooney has been a peripheral figure for United for most of this season. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Matt Law

Wayne Rooney is expected to miss out on a place in manager Gareth Southgate’s squad for next month’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland and the friendly with France – which could effectively signal the end of his England career.

The 31-year-old started Manchester United’s final five Premier League games of the season as manager Jose Mourinho prioritised the Europa League and rested his first-choice players. But Rooney has been a peripheral figure for his club for most of this season – he was on the bench for last night’s Europa League final – and has admitted he might need to leave Old Trafford to play regular first-team football. Now it appears his England future is also in doubt.

His last England appearance was in the 3-0 Wembley victory against Scotland in November, but he was absent from the squad for the draw with Spain four days later because of a knee injury.

The outlook is brighter for goalkeeper Jack Butland, who is set to win his first England call-up since suffering the ankle injury against Germany that kept him out for more than a year.

Butland required three operations after injuring his ankle in the 3-2 friendly victory in Berlin in March 2016. He made his first-team return for Stoke City on April 22 this year and Southgate went to watch the 24-year-old against West Ham United seven days later.

Southgate is a huge admirer of Butland from their time together with the under-21s, who the former Birmingham City goalkeeper captained.

With Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford set to be named in Aidy Boothroyd’s squad for the under-21s training camp ahead of this summer’s European Championship, Southgate has the perfect chance to check on Butland’s recovery first-hand.

Butland is seen by Southgate as a real contender to take the No 1 goalkeeping place off current first choice Joe Hart ahead of next year’s World Cup finals in Russia. He won further brownie points this year by making the effort to go to a meeting Southgate called of his England players at St George’s Park after being named the permanent manager.

Jermain Defoe, who scored on his England recall in March, is sweating on his place, with Southgate checking on the fitness of Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge ahead of naming his squad on Thursday.

England take on Scotland at Hampden Park in Glasgow on Saturday June 10 before travelling to Paris to face France three days later.

Southgate has been in talks with Mourinho regarding how 19-year-old Rashford will be used this summer, with the forward unlikely to go against the wishes of his United manager.

Mourinho would rather Rashford does not go to Poland with the under-21s and could strike a deal with Southgate that he is called up to the seniors on the understanding he only plays in one of the Scotland and France games.

Southgate’s forward options have been boosted by the fact he has the Premier League’s top scorer Harry Kane available again, but Arsenal are worried about Welbeck’s fitness and there is still concern over Sturridge’s hip despite his recent good form for Liverpool.

Defoe, who is joining Bournemouth on a free transfer, only scored once for Sunderland after netting on his England comeback against Lithuania on March 26.

With Danny Rose and Luke Shaw ruled out through injury, Southgate could be forced to call on Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs as cover for Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand.

Midfielder James Ward-Prowse and winger Nathan Redmond, who were included in Southgate’s last senior squad, are expected to be part of the under-21s squad.

Boothroyd’s players will meet for a training camp at St George’s Park next week ahead of kicking off their European Championship campaign in Poland against Sweden on June 16.

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