Football: Southgate shuts England door on Rooney

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney in action against Amin Younes of Dutch side Ajax during the Europa League final on Wednesday. United won 2-0 to secure their third title of the season, after also winning English football's Community Shield and
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney in action against Amin Younes of Dutch side Ajax during the Europa League final on Wednesday. United won 2-0 to secure their third title of the season, after also winning English football's Community Shield and the League Cup.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Wayne Rooney may have played his last game for England after manager Gareth Southgate left the national team's all-time leading scorer out of the squad for next month's World Cup Group F qualifier away to Scotland and a friendly match with France.

The forward's future at Manchester United has been the subject of intense speculation after his lack of appearances under manager Jose Mourinho this season, and his omission this time could effectively signal the end of an international career that has brought 53 goals and 119 caps.

He has not featured for Southgate's side since the win over Scotland at Wembley in November.

Rooney made a cameo in United's Europa League final win over Ajax in Stockholm on Wednesday, but was brought back down to earth with the news he has not been included in the 25-man England squad.

The door is not closed on an international return for the 31-year-old, who had hoped to end his Three Lions career by leading his country at next year's World Cup Finals in Russia, but Southgate has placed him firmly behind Marcus Rashford, Jermain Defoe, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy in the pecking order.

Southgate, who announced the squad to face Scotland on June 10 and France three days later, said: "The Scotland game is one of football's great fixtures. We're in a place in the group where a win can really put us in a very strong position, and that's what we want to achieve.

"France is a great challenge for us. Our ambition with our friendly matches is to play the best possible teams - we've done that by playing Spain and Germany already.

"They're teams we want to test ourselves against and these are great opportunities to learn and improve."

Southgate's decision to include Rashford has effectively ruled the United striker out of the England Under-21s' Euro 2017 campaign in Poland, which starts against holders Sweden on June 16.

Kane's return also marks the first time Southgate has been able to select the Premier League golden-boot winner, who has missed all six of the manager's matches through injury.

Southgate's squad also includes Tottenham Hotspur right-back Kieran Trippier for the first time.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2017, with the headline 'Southgate shuts England door on Rooney'. Print Edition | Subscribe