Published: Sun, November 11, 2018
Sports | By Toni Houston

Gareth Southgate defends Wayne Rooney call-up after backlash to proposed tribute

Gareth Southgate defends Wayne Rooney call-up after backlash to proposed tribute

DC United forward Rooney will make his first global appearance for two years after it was confirmed he would be part of England's squad to face United States at Wembley.

"Callum is a striker we worked with briefly with the Under-21s so we know plenty about him", Southgate told a news conference.

Rooney, 33, will receive his 120th cap despite having not featured for the Three Lions in nearly two years - although Southgate confirmed the former captain will not start the match nor wear the number 10 jersey.

The chances of such young talent making the cut this time around depend largely on whether Dele Alli, Adam Lallana and Jesse Lingard - all injured previously - are deemed fit enough to return to the fold.

Wayne Rooney has given the English game a tremendous career to reflect and debate on and whether you love him or hate him, you can't erase his name from the history books or argue with his impressive trophy cabinet.

Giggs, who played with Rooney for a decade at Manchester United, commented: "I understand it".

Gareth Southgate has made it clear the plan to award Wayne Rooney a final, controversial cap was not his idea - confessing he has not even spoken to the striker about his shock global return.

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"So, of course everybody respected [him] and we saw the sense in that".

The FA's controversial decision has prompted accusations that Rooney's farewell call-up is a mere ruse to sell more tickets for the match, while others have suggested that the 33-year-old's involvement could derail the momentum of Southgate's squad ahead of a crucial UEFA Nations League game against Croatia. He was the captain when I first got into the squad.

The Football Association announced on Sunday that Rooney would be awarded his 120th cap as a tribute to his England career which appeared to have come to an end when he retired from worldwide football in August 2017. "It's a real good thing for everyone to be a part of", he added.

As if Wayne Rooney's imminent one-night-only return to the England squad wasn't pointless enough to begin with, The FA have confirmed that the upcoming friendly against the U.S. at Wembley will not be a charitable affair after all.

Croatia beat the Three Lions in the World Cup semi-final in July before the sides drew 0-0 in Zagreb last month. "Now we have the opportunity with a game at Wembley to pay that tribute".

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Lewis Dunk and Michael Keane have also been named in the squad to face US and Croatia.

Mason Mount was similarly present without featuring last month but Derby County's on-loan Chelsea midfielder has a foot problem this time around.

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