Revolving door for England's captaincy

LONDON • Gareth Southgate needs more time to solve England's captaincy problem, the manager has said ahead of the team's World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley tomorrow.

He will name his fourth captain in six games this weekend with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, who led the team in the 1-0 defeat by Germany on Wednesday, unavailable due to suspension.

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, both absent from the English squad, have previously captained the side under Southgate.

"I guess I am giving myself time to think through what the best scenario (for captaincy) is, really," said Southgate, who yesterday gave Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson, 24, his first England call-up following an injury to Chris Smalling. "We did that with Gary (in Germany) - I know he's not playing on Sunday and it is opportunity to share that responsibility.

"I think people have stepped up in their performance, so there were people that weren't wearing the armband that played with the ball as leaders."

The former Boro boss said on-loan Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart could be next in line for the captaincy role but he preferred developing more leaders.

"It's something I want to think through, but it is not as important to me as making sure there is more development and that more are given responsibility," he said.

Former Three Lions skipper Paul Ince has called for Spurs midfield linchpin Dele Alli to get the armband in the future.

"At the minute, we haven't got many obvious leaders with the character and strong mentality needed for England to be successful," he told the Daily Express.

"I think Dele Alli is one who is psychologically strong.

"I don't think he should be captain now... but one day I could see it really bringing the best out of him."

Alli has been influential for England, even prompting Southgate to employ a new 3-4-3 formation so that he could get the best out of the 20-year-old and Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana.

England are top of Europe's World Cup qualifying group F having won three of their four games, and are two points clear of second-placed Slovenia.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline 'Revolving door for England's captaincy'. Print Edition | Subscribe