England captain Wayne Rooney will be left out of the line-up for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia, Gareth Southgate has confirmed.
Rooney, who was deployed in midfield on Saturday against Malta, was booed by sections of the Wembley crowd during England’s 2-0 win.
And caretaker manager Southgate revealed at the pre-match press conference in Ljubljana that the national team’s all-time top scorer would be among the substitutes for Tuesday’s Group F qualifier.
Southgate, who confirmed Rooney would remain his captain going forward, said: “It’s very straightforward. We’ve looked at Slovenia and the way they play and from when I looked at it I’ve had in my mind the profile of the midfield that we wanted to play.
“In no way is it a reflection on his performance on Saturday. In fact we were very pleased with what he did.”
Jordan Henderson will captain England in Rooney’s absence on Tuesday.
However, Southgate said Rooney will continue to lead the side for the foreseeable future.
“He’s still captain of this team while I’m in charge,” said Southgate, who is preparing for the second of his initial four-game stint as England boss.
“Everything I have seen this week has only improved the feeling of how impressive he has been as a leader of this group.”
Rooney says he was unaware of the jeers from his country’s own fans against Malta but vowed to continue to give his all for England.
He said: “To be honest I wasn’t aware of it. I think football nowadays, that’s part of the game, but I wasn’t aware of it on the pitch. I’ve nothing really to say on it.”
On Southgate’s decision to drop him against Slovenia, he added: “Of course you want to play.
“I understand and I respect the manager’s decision and I’ll support the players 100 per cent, and try to help the players get three points tomorrow.
“I’ll be ready to come off the bench if needed.
“I show great pride in playing for my country, whether that’s from the start or from the bench.
“Of course you want to be on the pitch, but my role as captain won’t change off the pitch.”
Southgate confirmed Eric Dier will take Rooney’s place in the starting line-up, but admitted he found the decision difficult “on a human level”.
“It is a football decision – it’s based on the profile of the opposition and the type of player we believe we need from this game,” Southgate said.
“On a human level it’s a very difficult decision. I don’t like the idea that it might bring satisfaction to some people that he’s not in the team.
“I’m probably more annoyed about that than he is. He’s had to live with that reaction through his career.”
Rooney’s response to the decision impressed Southgate, who believes the Manchester United skipper has the attributes to move into coaching.
“A lot of coaches will turn to their young players and say, ‘Look, that’s how the England captain dealt with that situation’. It was refreshing and incredibly professional,” Southgate added.
“There’s a depth to his leadership which unfortunately people outside of the group wouldn’t be aware of,” Southgate added.
“I don’t know what his long-term plans are but he’s almost like a coach for us in the dressing room already, that’s a huge compliment to his football intelligence.”
Southgate added that there were a few candidates for wearing the armband on Tuesday night, but felt Henderson had shown his capabilities as a leader when replacing Steven Gerrard as Liverpool skipper.
“What stood out for me is he’s captained a football club where he had to take over from one of the most iconic figures in English football,” Southgate said.
“I think he’s matured from that and I think he’s shown great leadership skills with his club.
“He’s used to being the captain which is also important and within this group of players he’s got a voice and an opinion, very clear ideas of what we need to work on and good tactical understanding.
“It was not an easy decision as there’s other senior players in that dressing room but I think because he’s captained in a big football club it’s the right decision for me. “