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5 talking points as England host the United States

Wayne Rooney is set for his international farewell.

Wayne Rooney, left, is England’s leading goalscorer (Martin Rickett/PA)
Wayne Rooney, left, is England’s leading goalscorer (Martin Rickett/PA)

England host the United States in the Wayne Rooney Foundation International at Wembley on Thursday night.

The friendly, which will honour Rooney’s England contribution, has been much talked about since it was announced the country’s all-time leading goalscorer would make one final appearance.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at that as well as some other major talking points around the game.

The long goodbye

Rooney will bring down the curtain on his record-breaking international career with an honorary appearance which has been months in the making.

The Football Association had planned to give the former Three Lions captain a final farewell in the lead-up to the World Cup, but manager Gareth Southgate revealed last week that Rooney did not want to impede on preparations for the finals.

Instead he will make a substitute appearance in Thursday’s match to mark his time with England and raise awareness of the Wayne Rooney Foundation.

Security is key

Speaking last month, FA chief executive Martin Glenn said Wembley remains a prime security target.

For the first time, no supporters will be allowed to take bags into the stadium as measures are stepped up to prevent any incidents.

“We know from security forces that Wembley is a prime target,” Glenn told the Daily Telegraph.

“The next match, when America play here, for the first time we are doing a bag-drop where you can’t take bags in.”

As one door closes…

With England facing a crunch Nations League meeting with Croatia just three days on from this friendly fixture, Southgate has already hinted he will mix things up.

This may be Rooney’s swansong but squad newcomer Callum Wilson could be handed his debut against the United States, while promising teenager Jadon Sancho is in line for his first senior start.

The likes of Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy and Lewis Dunk of Brighton could also come in for their international bows as Southgate offers up opportunities to impress.

US manager’s position in a state

The United States missed out on their first World Cup finals appearance since 1986 after a shock defeat at the hands of Trinidad and Tobago last October.

Head coach Bruce Arena lost his job as a result, with the United States Soccer Federation acting swiftly following the disappointment.

David Sarachan, one of Arena’s assistants, was appointed as interim coach and took charge of his first game a year ago.

While the 64-year-old saw his temporary role extended to the end of the year in June, he does remain a stop-gap for the USSF – who have come in for criticism after failing to find a long-term replacement.

Ups and downs

While most of Wembley will be trained on the England bench waiting to see when Rooney will be introduced, a few will have a keen eye on a game played over 800 miles away.

Spain travel to Zagreb to take on Croatia in a Nations League fixture which will have a direct impact on England’s own hopes in the competition.

Spain will seal a place in the finals if they win against Croatia. Should they slip up, England can win the group with victory over the same opponents on Sunday. Croatia must win both games to win the group, which would relegate England.



From Belfast Telegraph