Southgate defends giving Rooney a final cap

Sherman Parsons
November 11, 2018

Gareth Southgate defended the decision to honour Wayne Rooney by fielding England's top worldwide goalscorer in a friendly against the U.S. at Wembley next week.

No English player has scored more than Wilson's six Premier League goals so far this season.

Southgate said he had not discussed the clash with the DC United star, adding there was no need for him to be involved in the entire process.

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England host the U.S. on November 15 before taking on Croatia at Wembley in their final game of the inaugural Nations League. Wayne is one the greatest ever players to play for England, the greatest goalscorer to play for England, so why not give him the send-off he deserves?

'I always want to be consulted on the football and if I'm happy from that perspective then it's an opportunity for us to honour a player we hugely respect'.

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Rooney has not played for his country for nearly two years and Press Association Sport understands he will make a late substitute appearance in a game which will be known officially as the Wayne Rooney Foundation International. This fixture is an opportunity to learn about some new players; we then have the game with Croatia which is important to us and I want to protect that squad as much as possible in the first game.

Wayne Rooney is expected to make a late substitute appearance in the England friendly named in honour of his charity, Press Association Sport understands.

"He has had that but he has got back to a really good level".

Rooney's inclusion is a symbolic one but the nod to Wilson is strategic by Southgate as he recognises a player who has scored seven goals in all competitions for upwardly-mobile Bournemouth this season.

Croatia beat the Three Lions in the World Cup semi-final in July before the sides drew 0-0 in Zagreb last month.

Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard and Fabian Delph are all back in the 28-man group after missing the October fixtures through injury, while Southgate has also made a decision to take another look at Everton defender Michael Keane.

Southgate has had to ring the changes in his squad, with injury ruling out Mason Mount, James Maddison, Harry Maguire and James Tarkowski, while Nathaniel Chalobah has been told, like Adam Lallana, he needs to gain more regular playing time with his club. "I don't think we will give ourselves the best chance against Croatia if we play the [same] team twice", Southgate argued.

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