It had to be done South­gate had promised that form, and not rep­u­ta­tion, would de­ter­mine how his sides line up. The man­ager has fi­nally de­liv­ered on his words – and rightly so, writes Mark Og­den

The In­de­pen­dent’s

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

than half of his guests had omit­ted Rooney from their teams – my team in­clud­ing Danny Drinkwa­ter ahead of Rooney in mid­field and Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy in the for­ward po­si­tions – but he none­the­less stuck to his own thoughts by se­lect­ing his cap­tain against the Rus­sians – al­beit in a deep-ly­ing mid­field role.

The point of re­call­ing that story is to con­firm that the Rooney de­bate has now been build­ing a head of steam ever since in­jury forced him to miss the 3-2 vic­tory over Ger­many in Berlin in March, in which Eric Dier and Dele Alli both pro­duced out­stand­ing per­for­mances as Eng­land fought back from 2-0 down in the Olympias­ta­dion.

Hodg­son’s suc­ces­sor, Sam Al­lardyce, chose to keep faith with Rooney and South­gate started him against Malta at the week­end, when the player moved to within eight ap­pear­ances of equalling Peter Shilton’s Eng­land record of 125 caps, be­fore de­cid­ing over the week­end that he could no longer jus­tify his se­lec­tion in the first eleven.

Rooney, dropped at club level by Jose Mour­inho, has ad­mit­ted he now prefers to per­form in mid­field where, he be­lieves, he can “con­trol the game.”

As such, he has closed off the route to a place in South­gate’s front line, in­stead tar­get­ing ei­ther the No. 10 role or a deeper po­si­tion in front of the back four.

Even if Rooney was in form, he would have to over­come pin­cer move­ment of Dier and Alli to claim one of those po­si­tions, but his 90 min­utes against Malta be­trayed a man bereft of con­fi­dence and one strug­gling to war­rant his in­clu­sion ahead of ei­ther of the young Tot­ten­ham mid­field­ers.

Rooney’s prob­lem, one iden­ti­fied by Mour­inho and now South­gate, is that he has lost the dy­namism of his younger days.

Heat-maps high­light­ing his fail­ure to touch the ball in the op­pos­ing penalty area on Satur­day miss the Group A (Sav­it­skiy 80) (Joachim 85), (Toivo­nen 39, Hil­je­mark 45, Nils­son-Lin­de­lof 58) (Pogba 30). Group B (Martinez 90+1) (Schaer 19-pen, Mehmedi 77), (Silva 12, 22, 37, Cris­tiano Ron­aldo 65, Moutinho 90+1, Cancelo 90+3).

Group H

(Toro­sidis 1, Stafy­lidis 61), (Dzeko 70, 80) (Ben­teke 1, 43, 55, Wit­sel 19, Mertens 51, Haz­ard 79).

Eng­land’s striker Wayne Rooney at­tends a team train­ing at Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur’s train­ing fa­cil­ity in En­field, north Lon­don on Mon­day ahead of this morn­ing’s World Cup qual­i­fy­ing match against Slove­nia. –

Italy’s for­ward Ciro Im­mo­bile (left) scores dur­ing yes­ter­day’s World Cup 2018 qual­i­fy­ing match against Mace­do­nia at Philip II of Mace­don sta­dium in Skopje. – AFPPIX 2018 WORLD CUP QUAL­I­FIERS EURO­PEAN ZONE: An­dorra 1 Switzer­land 2 Faroe Is­lands

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