Wayne Rooney to start on bench in Slove­nia today

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Bar­ring any last-minute in­juries, man­ager Gareth South­gate will leave Rooney out of the start­ing XI as Eng­land look to pre­serve a 100% record in today’s match against Slove­nia.

Manch­ester United man Rooney is Eng­land’s most­capped out­field player, win­ning his 117th cap in the 2-0 vic­tory against Malta on Satur­day.

How­ever, his per­for­mances re­cently have been heav­ily crit­i­cised and the 30-year-old was booed by sec­tions of the Wem­b­ley crowd at the week­end, when he op­er­ated in a deep-ly­ing mid­field role. Tot­ten­ham mid­fielder Eric Dier played in that po­si­tion dur­ing Euro 2016.

Interim na­tional boss South­gate de­fended his cap­tain af­ter Satur­day’s game, say­ing the crit­i­cism was “at times un­fair”.

Rooney’s team-mates were left “shocked” by some fans’ treat­ment of the player, who has scored one goal in 12 games for club and coun­try this sea­son and has not started Manch­ester United’s past three matches.

Manch­ester City de­fender John Stones be­lieves Eng­land’s record goalscorer is a vic­tim of his own high stan­dards, af­ter scor­ing 53 goals in 117 ap­pear­ances for his coun­try.

“He wears his heart on his sleeve and gives 110% and you can see that in ev­ery per­for­mance,” said de­fender Stones, 22. “I am a bit shocked that the boo­ing hap­pened.”

Among those who have cap­tained Eng­land in the past are Gary Cahill, Joe Hart, Chris Smalling and Jor­dan Hen­der­son.

Steve Borg chal­lenges Wayne Rooney dur­ing Satur­day’s match at Wem­b­ley Photo: Paul Zam­mit Cu­ta­jar/MFA

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