Crocked Wayne Rooney is forced to leave England training camp
Wayne Rooney has left the England squad and returned to Man United after sitting out training yesterday with a knee injury. Interim manager Gareth Southgate had already said the Manchester United forward would sit out tonight's friendly with Spain whether he was injured or not.
The 31-year-old was dropped by Southgate for last month's World Cup qualifying draw with Slovenia but captained the side for the 3-0 win over Scotland on Friday evening.
Rooney was one of two players to miss training yesterday, along with left-back Ryan Bertrand.
Southgate's decision to start without the national captain and record goalscorer would hardly have been unprecedented in a friendly match but his insistence that he is taking decisions he deems to be in England's long-term interests, rather than his own prospects of being named permanent manager, cannot be coincidental.
Whether he no longer sees Rooney as an essential first-team pick, or simply wants the team to get used to playing without a man who has already telegraphed his retirement in 2018, is unclear.
Jordan Henderson will inherit the armband, as he did in Ljubljana, for the year-ending glamour tie.
Southgate said earlier yesterday: "I wouldn't start Wayne in this game anyway, so we'll decide which route to go.
"At times too much of that responsibility has laid with Wayne and we need to share that. There are leaders already and other potential leaders who I think can step forward. And once you have a team full of those players then we'll have a lot of success."
While Southgate's agreed tenure expires at full-time tonight, the odds are shortening on him staying on.
The team's comfortable standing in World Cup qualifying, allied to the feelgood factor of the 3-0 win over Scotland, have given him a firm claim to the job.
He has refused to discuss his own candidacy since picking up the baton from Sam Allardyce.
But he added: "My view is you manage every game like you're going to be there forever and make decisions for the long term."
- England v Spain, International friendly: Wembley, Tonight, 8.00pm