Former England full-back Stuart Pearce believes Gareth Southgate’s decision to play Wayne Rooney against Scotland is a massive risk.
The 31-year-old, following a cataclysmic display against Malta, was sidelined for England’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia last month.
However, Rooney will resume his place in the starting XI against the Auld Enemy on Friday, with Southgate confirming before the game that the striker would captain the side.
Pearce, speaking on Sky Sports earlier today, expressed his scepticism over Rooney’s inclusion.
“The big problem for me will come back to the Rooney situation,” he said.
“If Rooney is going to play just behind the striker, and Scotland are going to sit deep, I think Wayne just wants to play deep and get on the ball.
“That’s where the question mark around Rooney keeps coming up, time and time again. It’s because he wants to play deeper where there’s no traffic of players, get on the ball and start spraying it around. If we play with two holders [holding midfielders], you’re wasting players.”
Rooney will most likely feature at No.10, playing just in behind Harry Kane. And such a combination, as we have already seen, is doomed to failure.
Sam Allardyce, for the one game he was England manager, opted for the same set-up and it precipitated an inert, lifeless attacking display against Slovakia. With the home side sitting deep Rooney, as he always does, lurched further back in search for the ball, creating an insurmountable gap between midfield and attack.
Needless to say, the same looks set to happen against Scotland. The 31-year-old will need to remind disciplined, locate space, and stay close to Kane, who relies on having players near him to be effective going forward.