Friday 19 January 2018

Wayne Rooney could return to England setup but he must play regularly - Gareth Southgate

Wayne Rooney may have played his last game for England and Manchester United
Wayne Rooney may have played his last game for England and Manchester United Newsdesk Newsdesk

England boss Gareth Southgate admits it is "impossible to say" whether Wayne Rooney will play for his country again.

Manchester United striker Rooney has again been left out of Southgate's Three Lions squad next month.

The former captain was omitted in March for games against Germany and Lithuania and has been overlooked this time for June's matches against Scotland and France.

Rooney's role at Manchester United has diminished since Jose Mourinho's arrival as manager and he started just 15 Premier League games this season.

His time at Old Trafford appears to be over and Southgate also conceded he does not know if Rooney will feature for England again.

"It's impossible to say. Like every other player's form will dictate that. I certainly don't rule it out because a player of his quality and experience, you hope will reach the levels we know he can and be a big part of England's future," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"I'm mindful of being respectful of what he's done so don't like talking about him in the past tense. Knowing Wayne and his mentality he'll want to prove people wrong, prove me wrong and he's more than capable of doing that.

"He's a man we have to respect. He's our greatest goalscorer and one of our highest ever achievers in terms of caps and he's an unselfish player whenever he's played for England or his club.

"But equally I have to make decisions based on form and what's right for the team at this team. Who knows if I've got that right but have to do what I believe to be correct."

Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Jermain Defoe and United team-mate Marcus Rashford have all been selected ahead of Rooney - who scored eight goals this season - this time.

Southgate said: "Other people have come in to the squad and done very well.

"It appears Wayne has got some decisions to make over the summer regarding next season but the hope is he is back playing really well.

"We have been very clear. I'm conscious from his point of view it's always a big story when you don't select him. I want to do that in the right way."

Rashford has been included for the World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park on June 10 and the June 13 friendly in Paris despite the fact he could have gone with the under-21s for Euro 2017 in Poland next month.

He netted 11 times for United this season, with boss Mourinho saying he did not see the point of Rashford going to Poland, and Southgate believes he is now a senior member.

He said: "When you speak about players you have to look at what's right for the individual.

"With Marcus, if we had the conversation in November or December I would have been saying it would have been great for him to be involved with the under-21s if possible.

"As the season has gone on he has become a more integral part of Manchester United's team. I thought his contribution for us in March was excellent, not only in the matches but also on the training pitch and around the camp. In my eyes he's a senior player.

"He's played less for the under-21s in this cycle of games than Eric Dier and we wouldn't be talking about Eric going."

Southgate also revealed Liverpool right-back Nathaniel Clyne has withdrawn from the squad with an injury, while he has not settled on a captain for either of the upcoming fixtures.

"There are a lot of potential leaders emerging from this group and that's good because there's always been a focus on one person and an over-reliance on one person," added the manager.

"We're in a position where we can go a number of different ways with that."

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