England manager Gareth Southgate has expressed doubts over Wayne Rooney‘s future status as captain of the national side after omitting the 31-year-old from the most recent squad ahead of internationals later this month.
Rooney, following a woeful performance against Malta back in September, was left out of the side by Southgate ahead of England’s next game against Slovenia.
He has been left out of the squad altogether ahead of games against Germany and Lithuania in spite of recovering from injury in time for Manchester United’s clash with Middlesbrough this Sunday.
And Southgate, when asked about the Englishman’s future under his tenure, refused to guarantee that Rooney would feature in his long-term plans.
“We have this thing about ‘an England captain’, but really the captain is the person that is captain in the next game, isn’t it?” he said.
“It’s not something I think too much about really. It’s probably something moving forward that’s one of the areas we have to think about.
“I think it’s important not to look at someone’s age and dismiss them from your thinking on that. His goalscoring record is phenomenal.”
Questions will continue to loom over Southgate’s credentials as England manager, but one thing about his approach is certain: he is far more interested in laying the blueprints for a future national side than anything else. No surprise, then, that Rooney cuts an awkward, almost superfluous figure in this current set-up.
One suspects that Southgate will want to involve Rooney on a strictly sporadic basis, following Jose Mourinho’s example of using the 31-year-old primarily as a voice of experience in the dressing room as opposed to placing him at the axis of his side’s attacking line-up.