England captain Wayne Rooney accepts he is no longer first-choice for club or country after being dropped by interim manager Gareth Southgate for Tuesday's World Cup Group F qualifier in Slovenia for tactical reasons. In what some see as a bold move to leave out the skipper, Southgate on Monday handed the armband to Liverpool's Jordan Henderson while holding midfielder Eric Dier replaces Manchester United stalwart Rooney who will start from the bench. Rooney, sitting alongside Southgate in a news conference, said he was in a "difficult period".
It's football. He has got 23 players to select from. I've played 13 years non-stop for England and given everything and the time comes when you are not the first name on the team sheet.Wayne Rooney
Southgate stressed the decision was nothing to do with Rooney's struggle for form. "It's very straightforward really, we have looked at Slovenia and the way they play and from midway through last week I had in mind the profile of the midfield that I wanted to play and what was needed for this game," Southgate said. "In no way is it a reflection on Wayne's performance on Saturday (against Malta), in fact we were very pleased with what he did." Rooney, who turns 31 later this month, was booed by a minority of home fans late on in the 2-0 victory over Malta at Wembley that left England top of their group with two wins.
It is a football decision. It's based on the opposition. On a human level it's a very difficult decision because I don't like some people getting an element of satisfaction that he's not in the team.Gareth Southgate