Fans asked to spare Rooney

South­gate wants boos against cap­tain to end

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports - BY ROB DRAPER/

Gareth South­gate launched a pas­sion­ate de­fence of his cap­tain Wayne Rooney on Satur­day night, af­ter sec­tions of the Wem­b­ley crowd booed his name when it was an­nounced be­fore Eng­land’s 2-0 de­feat of Malta.

With the de­bate over Rooney’s po­si­tion and role in the team still rag­ing, South­gate started him along­side Jor­dan Hen­der­son in mid­field as Eng­land won through first-half goals from Daniel Stur­ridge and Dele Alli.

South­gate, Eng­land’s stand-in boss fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Sam Al­lardyce, was be­wil­dered by the neg­a­tiv­ity. “I don’t un­der­stand it,” he said. “But that seems to be the land­scape and I’ve no idea how it is ex­pected to help him. Peo­ple will look at the num­ber of games and goalscor­ing feats for Eng­land. And I look back to John Terry, Frank Lam­pard, Ash­ley Cole.”

“In their time with Eng­land they took enor­mous crit­i­cism but when you look at the num­ber of caps they got, they were guys who kept turn­ing out and who put them­selves on the line, whereas some other play­ers have not put them­selves for­ward and with­drawn from squads when the go­ing got tough.”

“But those guys are the guys who des­per­ately wanted to play for Eng­land again and again and again and put their necks on the block — and Wayne falls into that cat­e­gory. I pre­sented him with a cap in the week, be­ing the record cap holder for his coun­try (for out­field play­ers). He ploughs on and plays with pride.”

And de­spite Eng­land look­ing laboured in the sec­ond half against the side ranked No 176 in the world, South­gate pro­fessed him­self sat­is­fied with Rooney’s per­for­mance as the Eng­land cap­tain won his 117th cap, just eight be­hind all-time record holder, goal­keeper Peter Shilton.

“We knew that we would have a lot of the ball an dic­tate the tempo and his ex­pe­ri­ence and lead­er­ship has been cru­cial through­out this week, not just to­day,” he said. “I wanted to get Deli Alli higher up the pitch and he got his goal and will be dis­ap­pointed he didn’t get a sec­ond.”

But he re­fused to be drawn on Jose Mour­inho’s com­ments that he wouldn’t play Rooney in that po­si­tion for his club. “Jose has his opin­ion on what is right for his team and I have select a team that I think is right to get a re­sult to­day,” said South­gate.

/REUTERS

Eng­land in­terim man­ager Gareth South­gate with striker Mar­cus Rash­ford.

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