Wayne Rooney: Gareth Southgate reveals what he really thinks about England return

Wayne Rooney: Gareth Southgate reveals what he really thinks about England return

Gareth Southgate defended the decision to honour Wayne Rooney by fielding England's top worldwide goalscorer in a friendly against the US at Wembley next week.

Southgate said he last spoke to Rooney in April, when the DC United striker visited St George's Park as an honorary ambassador for the UEFA Under-17 European Championship, but the two men did not discuss the tribute.

It is believed that Rooney, 33, is not due to start the game, nor will he be given his usual number 10 shirt for the occasion - with his appearance on the bench also meaning it is unlikely he will wear the captain's armband on his return.

Harry Kane has backed Wayne Rooney to captain England when he makes his surprise return to the global fold next week.

Rooney will not be a part of England's squad for a Nations League clash against Croatia at Wembley three days after the United States game. This is a chance for not only a great player, but an iconic player and top goalscorer.

"I think the team respect what he did and I think it is important they respect what the players did in the past", Southgate said.

It's a shame that the opportunity for a record-breaker, with a stellar worldwide career, to have the honour of captaining his country one last time has been denied.

The match will be the called the "The Wayne Rooney Foundation International" and it will be in support of his charitable interests.

"I'm still able to look to the future in terms of the squad I was able to pick and the things I want to see".

The Football Association announced on Sunday that Rooney would be awarded his 120th cap as a tribute to his England career which appeared to have come to an end when he retired from global football in August 2017. There's players who have either been with us who I feel need to play to make sure they feel valued. "If he plays, of course he'll be the captain".

World Cup runners-up Croatia are in last place in League A Group 4, having played a game less than group leaders Spain and England.

There is a first call-up for the 26-year-old Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson and a recall for Everton centre-half Michael Keane, both of whom will hope to feature in a much-changed line-up to face the US.

Southgate has had to ring the changes in his squad, with injury ruling out Mason Mount, James Maddison, Harry Maguire and James Tarkowski, while Nathaniel Chalobah has been told, like Adam Lallana, he needs to gain more regular playing time with his club. Or there are young players we want to see from the start - that has to be the start point.

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