Wayne Rooney will captain England against Scotland, says Gareth Southgate
Wayne Rooney will captain England for their World Cup Qualifier against Scotland, Gareth Southgate has confirmed.
The Manchester United skipper did not start in England’s last qualifier, and Jordan Henderson’s appearance alongside Southgate at the pre-match press conference on Thursday raised suggestions that the 26-year-old would lead England for a second consecutive match.
However, when asked if Henderson’s appearance meant Rooney would not captain the side, Southgate replied: “No. We’re just trying to share out media responsibilities.”
Despite confirming Henderson will start the game against Scotland, asked if Rooney would be captain, Southgate responded: “Yes, yes he is.”
Southgate – who said he does not view Friday’s fixture as “make or break” for his future as manager – insisted it was an easy decision to pick Rooney for the game due to its importance, revealing the United skipper is not in the same condition he was in ahead of their last World Cup Qualifier against Slovenia.
“He’s in a better place than he was for the last get together in terms of his sharpness, confidence,” Southgate added.
“He’s really an experienced player for game like this. There was no hesitation from my point of view to play him.
“He’s playing well, he’s played well in the last couple of games for Manchester Untied. He’s a player that when he’s in a rhythm of playing that helps. He’s confident.
“His experience is important in a game like this with a team with a lot of energy and potential, but you also need some experienced players around that.”
Jack Wilshere and Harry Kane were among nine England players who had undergone individual training sessions on Tuesday as they recover from injuries, but Southgate revealed he will not be limited in his selection on Friday.
“Everyone will train today,” he said. “We had one or two question marks earlier in the week but we’ve got a full squad to pick from as I sit here now.”
Southgate admitted Kane’s availability makes the decision on who to lead the attack even tougher, but he would not confirm if the Tottenham striker, or Wilshere, will be in the starting line-up.
“These are difficult decisions for me to make,” he said. “We’ve got competition for places.”
England are currently stronger than ever in head-to-heads with Scotland, winning 12 of the last 17 meetings, but Southgate stressed the team are keen to avoid arrogance.
“We’ve actually had a conversation last night about the difference between confidence and arrogance, and the comment was made that arrogance is not where we want to be,” said Southgate.
“But certainly we want to play with confidence and be adaptable to every situation we are put into. That will build as they mature together and go through matches like tomorrow night.
“You want your players to get into the right performance state, so we haven’t flogged the match’s history, but the players should be proud of the position they are, they’re among the best 25 players in the country and it’s taken a lot of hard work for them to get here.”
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