Sunday 26 March 2017

Gareth Southgate: 'I Still Need Wayne Rooney'

Wayne Rooney

Rooney, 31, is no longer England’s automatic captain and is not involved against Lithuania today after suffering a knee injury.

Manchester United and England’s all-time record scorer has no intention of announcing his international retirement.

And ahead of the World Cup qualifier at Wembley, England boss Southgate said: “Wayne’s absolutely got a genuine chance of being in this team.

“I don’t understand why there has been this talk of a tribute match, like Lukas Podolski had for Germany against us last Wednesday.

“And there was no problem about missing a team meeting last week to have treatment. He wasn’t the only one – there were others like Harry Kane and Danny Rose.

“The ideal scenario is to have players who are playing regularly for their clubs but I’ve got to be open-minded. There is no hard and fast rule.”

Southgate wants the England crowd today to create a fitting atmosphere to honour those who lost their lives in last week’s terrorist attack.

He also appealed for no offensive chanting, as was heard from England fans in Germany.

Southgate said: “We know how important football is in this country. “This is a great chance for everyone to show their respect.

“It’s not just about London, it’s the whole country. Some of the chants in Germany were unacceptable. We prefer to focus on the fans who support the team in the right way.”

Southgate hinted that both Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson – if he sticks with three at the back – and Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe have a chance of starting in a side which will be captained by goalkeeper Joe Hart.



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