Burton-on-Trent - England captain Wayne Rooney will return
to the starting line-up for his country's 2018 World Cup qualifier against
Scotland on Friday, interim manager Gareth Southgate announced on Thursday.
Rooney, 31, started on the bench in England's last game, a
0-0 draw away to Slovenia, after losing his place in Manchester United's
But he has started United's last two games, scoring from
range in their 2-1 Europa League defeat at Fenerbahce last week, and will win
his 119th cap from the start against Scotland at Wembley.
"He's confident and I think experience in a game like
this is important," Southgate told reporters at the St George's Park
football centre in Burton-on-Trent, central England.
"He's in a better place than he was for the last
get-together in terms of his sharpness, his confidence. There was no hesitation
to be playing him.
"He's playing well. He's played well in his last couple
of matches for Manchester United. When he's in a rhythm of playing, that
Rooney takes the captain's armband back from Liverpool
midfielder Jordan Henderson, who Southgate confirmed will start.
Also read: Rooney insists he has a "lot of football left"
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane is also in contention
to start after proving his fitness in training following his comeback from a
seven-week lay-off with an ankle ligament injury.
Southgate said he had a fully fit squad to choose from and
all 25 players at his disposal were present at the pre-match training session.
England are top of UEFA qualifying Group F after three
games, two points above Lithuania and Slovenia and three points clear of old
England host Spain in a friendly on Tuesday, for what will
be the last game of Southgate's four-match stint following the departure of
previous manager Sam Allardyce.
British newspaper reports suggest Southgate will be given
the role full-time provided England avoid embarrassment against Scotland, but
he said he did not feel any pressure.
"I'm really enjoying being in the role," said the
former England Under-21 coach.
"What happens to me is not important. We've got to win
this game for the country and to be top of the group, heading to (World Cup
"That's the task I ws given. What happens to me is
important to my family, but it's not the reason and the focus for the game.
"I want the players to go out, enjoy their football and
play well, and I'm sure they will."
Southgate was reluctant to declare an interest in taking on
the role full-time, but FA chief executive Martin Glenn is hopeful he will put
his name forward.
"We get through the next two games and then we are
going to put our heads together, talk to Gareth and really understand what his
level of interest is in the role," Glenn told reporters at the Sport
Industry Breakfast Club in London.
"I hope he is interested and wants to put his hat in
the ring. We have a bit of time then to assess him and then the other
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