Wednesday 13 December 2017

Much-needed boost for Wayne Rooney as he is confirmed as England captain

England's interim manager Gareth Southgate and Wayne Rooney
England's interim manager Gareth Southgate and Wayne Rooney

Gareth Southgate has confirmed Wayne Rooney will return to captain England against Scotland in the World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Friday night.

Rooney was dropped for the goalless draw with Slovenia last month while he has also been left out by Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho at club level recently.

The 31-year-old returned to United's starting line-up in the 3-1 victory over Swansea last weekend and England interim boss Southgate says his skipper is now "in a better place".

Speaking at a press conference, Southgate added: "He's confident and I think experience in a game like this is important, in a team that has a lot of energy and potential, but you also need a lot of experience."

Southgate continued: "He's in a better place than he was for the last get-together in terms of his sharpness, his confidence. There was no hesitation to be playing him.

"He's playing well. He's played well in his last couple of matches for Manchester United. When he's in a rhythm of playing that helps."

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Jordan Henderson, who captained England against Slovenia in place of Rooney, also said the Manchester United forward's experience is invaluable to the squad.

Rooney played in each of the last two friendlies with Scotland and is England's second most-capped player of all time, and Henderson says the knowledge his team-mate has gained over that time has been put to good use.

He said: "Wayne will speak to a lot of the players, with his experience. Not only for this game, but for a lot of the games Wayne uses his experience for the players very well, especially the younger lads that have not experienced as many games or as big a game as this is. So he's a big part in trying to get the victory."

Southgate has a fully-fit squad from which to choose, with Harry Kane also in contention after returning to the international fold following injury.

Kane was welcomed back by Tottenham after a seven-week lay-off last weekend and scored in the north London derby against Arsenal.

Southgate said: "Everybody has trained today so that's been pleasing. We had one or two question marks earlier in the week but we've got a full-strength squad to pick from as of now.

"These are difficult decisions for me to make because we've got strength in depth, we've got competition for places which is very important, and we've got some good players. It's a great position for me to be in.

"It's one of the privileges of the job. I've really enjoyed working with the best players in the country. They are so open to new ideas, so for any coach that is great. To be leading them into a game like tomorrow is very, very special."

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