SportSoccer

Rooney's painful fall from grace just hit a new low

Rooney's days as an England regular are over
Rooney's days as an England regular are over

Wayne Rooney is set to be dropped for England's World Cup qualifier against Slovenia on Tuesday night.

The 30-year-old has only been a substitute for Manchester United's last three matches but started for England in the 2-0 win against Malta on Saturday. Rooney was deployed in midfield and was booed by sections of the Wembley crowd on several occasions.

Interim manager Gareth Southgate has now decided to drop his captain for Tuesday's match in Ljubljana, unless there are any late injuries to his intended starting XI.

Southgate has already indicated he is prepared to make tough decisions as national manager.

He said after the victory over Malta: "I've got to make decisions which are right for the team and whenever you select a team, with England, you're going to leave some (players disappointed).

''You look at the bench (against Malta) and there are guys that are playing every week in the Premier League for their clubs and so you have to be prepared to do that, that's part and parcel of the job.''

Slovenia coach Srecko Katanec admitted Rooney had suffered a dip in form but still said he would rather face England without Rooney rather than with him.

''Wayne Rooney is a leader of this team, he has the experience a captain needs and it is quite hard to substitute him or leave him out," Katanec said.

''Because of his experience and quality I would rather he would not start than he does start."

England's all-time leading goalscorer has operated purely in a midfield capacity for his country in his last outings under Roy Hodgson, Sam Allardyce and now Southgate, with the latter pair retaining Rooney as their captain.

He laughed and joked with the rest of the squad as they trained at Tottenham's Enfield training base ahead of Monday's flight to Slovenia, throwing himself into challenges in a warm-up routine.

Questions remain over his long-term future for club and country after United boss Jose Mourinho dropped his skipper to the bench after a 3-1 EFL Cup win at Northampton

The Red Devils have since won two of their three fixtures with Rooney out of the team, including an impressive 4-1 victory over reigning Premier League champions Leicester.

Rooney has won 117 caps, a record for an outfield player, and announced ahead of Allardyce's one and only game at the helm against Slovakia last month that he intends to retire from the international stage after the World Cup in Russia in two years' time.