Gareth Southgate defends giving Wayne Rooney final England appearance

Gareth Southgate defends giving Wayne Rooney final England appearance

Gareth Southgate surprised by criticism over Wayne Rooneys England recall

Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson has received his first senior international call-up for Englands games against the United States and Croatia.

Former England captain and record goalscorer Wayne Rooney has been included for the US friendly only.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham), Jack Butland (Stoke City), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Lewis Dunk (Brighton & Hove Albion), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Michael Keane (Everton), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Alex McCarthy (Southampton), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (DC United)*, Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), Callum Wilson (AFC Bournemouth), Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur)

England play USA on Thursday, 15 November before hosting Croatia in the Nations League the following Sunday.

Three days later, it’s the final group game in the UEFA Nations League when Zlatko Dalic’s team are in town for what will be the third clash between our two nations in just a few months following the World Cup semi-final in July and October’s Nations League game in Rijeka.

Midfielders Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard return after missing the last round of internationals through injury, with Mason Mount and James Maddison dropping out of the squad.

Winger Jadon Sancho, 18, retains his place, while uncapped trio – Brighton centre-back Lewis Dunk, Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli and Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy – have been called-up again.

The Three Lions take on the Stars and Stripes on Thursday 15 November, a match that has been dedicated to the Wayne Rooney Foundation and will also see the former England captain earn his 120th, and final, cap.

Danny Welbeck is included but he suffered an ankle injury in Arsenals Europa League game against Sporting on Thursday and could now miss the Three Lions matches.

“There have been ongoing discussions since Wayne retired about paying tribute to him and his England career,” said the manager, who added Rooney had declined an opportunity to be honoured ahead of the World Cup so as not to take the attention away from those going to Russia.

Rooney, 33, will win his 120th and final England cap as he comes out of international retirement for the game against the US at Wembley which will raise money for the Wayne Rooney Foundation.

“We have brought former players back to speak and present shirts. I think all the players respect Wayne’s contribution and that he deserves the best possible send-off.”

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The DC United forward, who has scored 53 international goals and made his last international appearance in a 3-0 victory over Scotland in November 2016, will be used as a second-half substitute.

Rooney was named in Southgate’s 28-man squad to face the USA and Croatia later this month, with the former England captain only featuring in the first game.

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England boss Gareth Southgate said discussions about paying tribute to Rooney started 12 months ago and the player declined the opportunity to be honoured before the World Cup.

“I am still able to look to the future with the squad weve picked, but weve talked a lot about the history of the shirt,” he said. “I think all the players respect Waynes contribution and that he deserves the best possible send-off.”

“That lineage and heritage of the shirt and the team is important to me because I think whether you join a club or (play for) your country you need to know the history of that shirt and the importance of it – then you are not playing for the name on the back but for the crest on the front.”

Former England Under-21s striker Wilson has been rewarded for his form this season, scoring six Premier League goals.

Rooneys one-off return to the international fold has not been without its critics. Englands record appearance-maker Peter Shilton said caps should not be “given out like gifts”, while former Blackburn and Celtic striker Chris Sutton said his inclusion “devalued the international cap”.

“Hes a threat in terms of running in behind defences,” said Southgate. Hes been involved with either scoring or assists, with a high number of goals this season, so its a good opportunity for us to have a look at him and see how he fits into what we do, and for him to get a feel of working with the senior team.”

“Hopefully, by the time we get to the game, and him being with us next week, the focus will be on actually, lets think about what he did and how well he played, and theres an opportunity here to thank him for that.

Englands record appearance-maker is former keeper Peter Shilton, with 125 appearances for his country.

“I think it should be appropriate that people are not heading for the tubes before he comes on and also we have got out of the game what we wanted and not taking someone off too early.

He said caps should not be “given out like gifts” and that he was “surprised” Southgate had allowed Rooneys inclusion.

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“You can come on with two minutes to go because you need a change – Ive played when weve changed the whole team at half-time.

The former captains one-off return for the Wayne Rooney Foundation international against the US will dominate the managers press conference this afternoon but Southgate is again planning to select a youthful party with Jadon Sancho and James Maddison keeping their places.

“Were a strange country in that we bemoan the fact we havent achieved as much as we like, and then we have a player who should be held in the highest regard and were justifying including him.

Harry Winks and Ross Barkley will be retained but Mason Mount could miss out due to increased competition in midfield, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Adam Lallana pushing for recalls after being given more game time by Chelsea and Liverpool respectively.

Goalkeepers: Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham), Jack Butland (Stoke City), Alex McCarthy (Southampton), Jordan Pickford (Everton).

Gareth Southgate will stick with the youngsters when naming his England squad for next weeks games against the United States and Croatia despite his decision to endorse the controversial recall of Wayne Rooney.

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Lewis Dunk (Brighton ), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Michael Keane (Everton), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City).

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Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Harry Winks (Tottenham).

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (DC United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth).

• Manager says striker will feature from bench in USA friendly• Its strange we are spending time justifying giving him tribute

The 26-year-old has been rewarded with his first call-up to the senior England squad after an excellent start to the Premier League season – but international football is a far cry from Wilsons challenging childhood.

Rooney, who made the last of his 119 England appearances in November 2016, was named in a 28-man squad on Thursday along with the Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson, who has been handed a first call-up, and the Everton defender Michael Keane.

“It wasnt a smooth pathway for Callum and he had some incredible setbacks including several serious injuries, but he is very determined and he is a brilliant lad that I cannot speak of highly enough.

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Read more Southgate confirmed Rooney would play as a substitute in the friendly at Wembley but would not captain the side or wear his usual No 10 shirt. The England manager said he had been surprised by the negative reaction to Rooneys inclusion but cited the example of Lukas Podolski, who was honoured in a similar fashion by Germany during last years friendly against Southgates side.

Does Rooneys current level of play warrant representing the team in a competitive match? Of course not. But calling up players who are not good enough for competitive matches is something that is done all the time in international friendlies. Coaches are constantly looking at the depth of their options in these sorts of games. In fact, I wouldnt expect too many first choice players to get many minutes in this game at all, and the USMNT is unlikely to field their top XI either. This is what international friendlies are.

Gareth Southgate confirms Wayne Rooney will not start for England against USA

Its a shame because we want it to be a fitting tribute to an outstanding player who has often, I think, been undervalued in terms of how well he played for England, he said.

With that in mind, if we look at the concept of merit from the perspective of what kind of sendoff does one of the greatest England internationals deserve? then the idea that Rooney deserves this call up is very reasonable, keeping in mind that he has the record for the most international goals for the Three Lions with 53.

Thats a disappointment. But hopefully by the time we get to the game, and him being with us next week, the focus will be on: Actually, lets think about what he did and how well he played, and theres an opportunity here to thank him for that. And then afterwards we can decide whether playing him was the right thing or wasnt the right thing.

I understand the debate around that. I thought the Podolski situation was a super night. If I had been a player, and had given what those guys had given, Id have walked away from there feeling my association have really recognised me in a fitting way.

Some have complained that international caps should only be given on merit and therefore Rooney should not be given this appearance but I would argue that there is more than one form of merit.

We are a strange country in that we bemoan the fact we havent achieved as much as wed like and then we have a player who should be held in the highest regard and we are spending a lot of time justifying giving him that tribute.

Wayne Rooney: Should he get to play for England again?

Read more Rooney will not be involved in the Nations League game against Croatia a week on Sunday and Southgate was adamant his decision to name a larger-than-usual squad ensured nobody in his plans has missed out. Mason Mount and James Maddison were not included because of injury.

We will look at all the players we want to look at, he said. We have named additional names and have still got to get through the weekend in terms of numbers but there is no one else. We have to balance with the under-21s as they have got a competition next summer and the more we move them up the less enthusiastic they are about moving back down, at times, so the players we have moved up we wanted to look at.

Wilson, whose only previous international football came in a 20-minute cameo for Southgate with the under‑21s in 2014, has been rewarded for a brilliant start to the season that has brought six Premier League goals. Keane, who made his senior debut against Germany last year, is recalled after some impressive form, with Leicesters Harry Maguire injured.

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