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Rooney left out due to his lack of game time, says Southgate

By Liam Blackburn

Gareth Southgate admits England captain Wayne Rooney's lack of playing time at Manchester United has contributed to his omission from a squad featuring several shock inclusions.

Southgate revealed that Rooney could return from a short-term knee lay-off at the weekend, though England's record scorer was absent from the 26-man group the new Three Lions boss has named to face Germany and Lithuania the following week.

Jermain Defoe, Jake Livermore and Luke Shaw were all included, as were four uncapped players, and Southgate conceded Rooney's exclusion can in part be attributed to his limited opportunities under Jose Mourinho.

The 31-year-old has started four games in 2017 and only last month said he would be remaining at Old Trafford despite interest from the Chinese Super League.

"The injury, coupled with the fact he's really not had a lot of game time recently, has sort of determined my decision on that one," Southgate said.

Rooney's absence is even more surprising given the depleted options Southgate has in attack as Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge are both out injured.

That has led to a recall for 35-year-old Sunderland striker Defoe four years on from the last of his 55 caps, as well as Man United teen Marcus Rashford.

The inclusion that raised the most eyebrows was that of West Brom midfielder Livermore.

In 2015 the 27-year-old tested positive for cocaine and was cleared to return in September that year less than two weeks after the FA took the death of his newborn son as exceptional mitigating circumstances.

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