Interim manager of the England national team, Gareth Southgate, has confirmed that Wayne Rooney will start Tuesday’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Slovenia from the bench.
Southgate insisted his decision was tactical and not due to bad form.
In Rooney’s absence, Jordan Henderson will captain England.
“It’s very straightforward,” Southgate said.
“We’ve looked at Slovenia and the way they play and, from when I looked at it, I’ve had in my mind the profile of the midfield that we wanted to play.
“In no way is it a reflection on his performance on Saturday. In fact we were very pleased with what he did.
“He’s still captain of this team while I’m in charge.
“Everything I have seen this week has only improved the feeling of how impressive he has been as a leader of this group.
“Not only did he accept the news with professionalism but he immediately said he wanted to talk to you [the media] today.
“I go back to what I’ve witnessed at St George’s Park over the last three years, from afar. That has only been embellished by what I’ve witnessed this week.
“There’s a depth to his leadership that unfortunately people outside of the group wouldn’t be aware of.
“He’s almost like a coach within the dressing room already and that’s a compliment to his football intelligence and what’s right for the group.
“It is a football decision. It’s based on the profile of the opposition and the type of player we believe we need for this game.
“On a human level, it’s a very difficult decision. I don’t like the idea that it might bring satisfaction to some people that he’s not in the team.
“I’m probably more annoyed about that than he is. He’s had to live with that reaction through his career”, he stated.
Eric Dier will replace Rooney in the starting line-up, as Southgate chases his second win in charge of the Three Lions.
“Eric Dier will start and its clear they are two different sorts of player,” Southgate explained.
“We are away from home and we need different skills for a different tactical challenge. As a coach, you’ve got to look at the right set-up.”