Q&A on Wayne Rooney's England future

25 May 2017 04:09

England's record goalscorer Wayne Rooney has been left out of Gareth Southgate's England squad for the second time in a row, raising questions over his international future.

Here, Press Association Sport assesses the key questions.

How long has it been coming?

Almost as long as Southgate has had his feet under the table. He started Rooney in his first match in charge, against Malta, but was bold enough to drop him days later in Slovenia while still interim boss. He managed 90 minutes against Scotland next time around, but has not been seen in England colours since, injured prior to the friendly with Spain then overlooked for March's double-header with Germany and Lithuania. Southgate has never ducked the Rooney issue, but his actions - or at least his selections - speak louder than words.

What has changed?

While Roy Hodgson was willing to accommodate Rooney in midfield just to ensure he made the starting XI and Sam Allardyce appeared in thrall to the skipper in his albeit brief tenure, Southgate has approached the issue with a dispassionate analysis. Having removed the captaincy from the equation, he determined there were more effective options in attack and at number 10 and has downgraded Rooney accordingly. Most importantly, though, the Three Lions boss envisions his side playing an athletic, energetic attacking game and that suits younger legs more readily than older heads.

Is there a way back?

Southgate clearly respects Rooney as both a player and a man, stressing the latter point on numerous occasions since taking post. As such he sees no need to make a grandstanding point by calling time publicly on Rooney's career. But given the style of football Southgate appears to favour it seems unlikely he can ever again be a key figure in the team, purely for physical reasons. The best chance would be for him to leave Manchester United and re-establish himself elsewhere. Regular football and a return to top-dog status might inject him with a new lease of life just in time for him to play a supporting role in one last World Cup next summer.

What comes next?

Rooney is expected to be heading for pastures new in the summer and his destination could effectively settle the question of his England career. Everton is his only possible Premier League destination and, if that transpired, he could legitimately set about winning Southgate over at a top-half side. Alternatively, a mooted move to China would be tantamount to retirement. Southgate would likely treat any move outside the top European leagues as the end of the matter. Whether there is room for a farewell appearance is intriguing. It may not be in the English tradition, but Southgate had a front row seat for Lukas Podolski's Germany curtain call in March and may be tempted to make the offer.

Source: PA