‘Rooney will stay Eng­land cap­tain’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

ENG­LAND man­ager Gareth South­gate con­firmed Wayne Rooney will re­main cap­tain yes­ter­day as he faced the me­dia for the first time since his per­ma­nent ap­point­ment.

Rooney, (31), apol­o­gised af­ter be­ing pic­tured look­ing the worse for wear as he min­gled with wed­ding guests at the Eng­land team ho­tel in the early hours dur­ing the most re­cent in­ter­na­tional break.

South­gate dropped him for a 0-0 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing draw in Slove­nia, but re­called him for Eng­land’s 3-0 win over Scot­land, be­fore in­jury forced the Manch­ester United for­ward to with­draw from the squad.

“Wayne Rooney is the Eng­land cap­tain,” South­gate told re­porters at Wem­b­ley.

“I said that from the be­gin­ning of the in­terim pe­riod. What’s also clear is that I’ve only se­lected him to start in two of the four matches we’ve had.

“It is not a case that Wayne ex­pects to play ev­ery game. It’s im­por­tant we de­velop more lead­ers in that group.

“When I played for Eng­land at Euro 96, there were lead­ers through­out the team. Wayne has played an im­por­tant part up to this point, but we also need to de­velop oth­ers.”

South­gate, 46, was ap­pointed Eng­land man­ager on a four-year con­tract on Wed­nes­day, hav­ing pre­vi­ously been in charge for four games on an in­terim ba­sis.

Re­ports sug­gested South­gate’s con­tract con­tained a break clause af­ter the 2018 World Cup, but he said that was not the case.

The for­mer Mid­dles­brough man­ager was pro­moted from his role as Eng­land Un­der-21s coach af­ter Sam Al­lardyce de­parted over a news­pa­per’s re­port on his con­duct.

South­gate’s first game as full­time man­ager will be a friendly against Ger­many in Dort­mund on March 22, fol­lowed by a World Cup qual­i­fier against Lithua­nia at Wem­b­ley four days later.

Eng­land, hu­mil­i­ated by Ice­land in the last 16 at Euro 2016, top their World Cup qual­i­fy­ing group by two points.

Sev­eral other Eng­land play­ers were re­ported to have gone out on the same evening as Rooney’s late night at the team ho­tel, prompt­ing a re­view of player down­time by the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

But South­gate said he did not think he would need to re­mind Eng­land’s play­ers about their off-pitch re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“I don’t think lay­ing down the law is nec­es­sary,” he said.

“I like to treat play­ers as adults. There needs to be trust be­tween the coach and the play­ers.

“There also needs to be clear guide­lines. The play­ers also need to take lead­er­ship on that. If we’re go­ing to have a top team, than I want them in­volved in that.”

It is now 20 years since Eng­land last reached a ma­jor semi­fi­nal, but FA chief ex­ec­u­tive Martin Glenn pre­dicted Eng­land will do “very well” at the next World Cup in Rus­sia.

“He’s a thinker, he’s a doer,” Glenn said of South­gate. “(Look at) the way he’s de­vel­oped and nur­tured nine of the cur­rent squad, who have come di­rectly through the un­der-21s.

“He’s very ar­tic­u­late. Gareth has been a cap­tain at ev­ery club he’s played at so that says some­thing. He’s a strong and proven leader.” — BBC Sport

Wayne Rooney

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