Wayne Rooney’s England career moved a step closer to the end after the former captain was left out of Gareth Southgate’s squad to face Scotland and France next month.
Rooney made a brief cameo in Manchester United’s Europa League final win over Ajax in Stockholm on Wednesday night, but was brought back down to earth with the news he has not been included in a 25-man party that will contest a World Cup qualifier in Hampden on June 10, followed by a Paris friendly three days later.
The door is not closed on an international return for the 31-year-old, who had hoped to end his Three Lions career by leading his country in Russia next summer, but Southgate has placed him firmly behind Marcus Rashford, Jermain Defoe, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy in the pecking order.
Elsewhere in the squad, there is a recall for goalkeeper Jack Butland, back after a year of injury trauma dating back to his previous England appearance in Germany, a first call-up for Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier and nods for Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson and West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell.
It is now hard to see a way back for Rooney, who is England’s record goalscorer with 53 as well as being the most capped outfield player with 119 appearances.
He has been quietly shunted down the Old Trafford pecking order this season and even a late-season return to the first team picture, a result of injuries and fixture congestion at United more than a compelling upturn in form, has not persuaded Southgate.
Instead he has placed his faith in 19-year-old Rashford, who started for United against Ajax, and will not now link up with the Under-21s for this summer’s European Championship.
Kane’s return also marks the first time Southgate has been able to select the Premier League golden boot winner, who has missed all six of the manager’s matches through injury.
Full England squad to face Scotland and France:
Jack Butland (Stoke), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Torino, on loan from Man City), Tom Heaton (Burnley); Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Aaron Cresswell (West Ham), Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), Phil Jones (Man Utd), Chris Smalling (Man Utd), John Stones (Man City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Tottenham); Dele Alli (Tottenham), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Man Utd), Jake Livermore (West Brom), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Man City); Jermain Defoe (Sunderland), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd), Jamie Vardy (Leicester).