Gareth Southgate insists he is not afraid to drop Wayne Rooney from the England team amid reports Eric Dier will return against Slovenia.
Rooney’s place in the England side is under immense scrutiny after another poor display in the 2-0 victory over Malta, in which he was awarded 4/10 in our player ratings.
Jose Mourinho has recently dropped the 30-year-old from his Manchester United starting XI, and there are now calls for England caretaker boss Southgate to follow suit.
When asked about Rooney’s reduced role at his club, Southgate responded: “I think at this moment in time that’s irrelevant.
“We’ve got 30% of the Premier League eligible for England. Of that, some don’t want to play [for England]. Some aren’t good enough to play and we’ve got a captain who is desperate to lead on and off the field and continues to make an outstanding contribution to that group of players.
“That was why he was selected. What’s happening at Manchester United, for this week, is not as important.”
However, the interim manager went on to concede: “The longer a situation goes where you are not playing with your club, it becomes more difficult.
“I’ve got to make decisions which are right for the team and, whenever you select a team for England, you’re going to leave out some players.
“You look at the bench [against Malta] and there are guys who are playing every week in the Premier League, so you have to be prepared to do that (make tough decisions). That’s part and parcel of the job.”
Reports suggest that Tottenham midfielder Dier will return to the England team for Tuesday night’s trip to Slovenia, with Southgate considering the 22-year-old the country’s best player at Euro 2016.
With Jordan Henderson having his best game in an England shirt and Dele Alli continuing as to show his credentials as the more vibrant option at number 10 against Malta, Southgate is now facing a dilemma in what to do with Rooney.
According to The Times, he initially planned to use Rooney in a three-man midfield alongside Dier and Henderson, though that would lead to the unpopular decision to either drop Alli or move the Spurs star out wide.