Belfast Telegraph

Wayne Rooney has shown he's still man to captain England, says Allardyce

World Cup qualifiers

By Rory Dollard

Wayne Rooney will continue as England captain after manager Sam Allardyce made the "easy" decision to retain his services.

Rooney, 30, has led his country for the past two years, but after taking over from Roy Hodgson following Euro 2016, Allardyce initially refused to confirm he would keep the armband.

Allardyce also declined to name a skipper in his first squad announcement on Sunday night, adding a minor element of intrigue, but the Manchester United forward always looked firm favourite.

Question marks over his place in the team appear to have been answered by a strong start to the season at Old Trafford, where Jose Mourinho has used him as a number 10, shoring up his position in the international fold ahead of the World Cup qualifier in Slovakia on Sunday.

"Wayne has been an excellent captain for England and the manner in which he has fulfilled the role made it an easy decision for me to ask him to continue," said Allardyce, who informed the players of his decision after the start of a week-long get-together at St George's Park yesterday.

"Wayne's record speaks for itself, he is the most senior member of the squad and he is hugely respected by his peers.

"All of these factors point towards him being the right choice to lead the team."

The 61-year-old might also have mentioned the lack of obvious alternatives, with Joe Hart and Chris Smalling currently out-of-favour at their clubs, while the likes of Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier and Harry Kane are still making their way with England.

Rooney might have been criticised for his lax showing in the defeat to Iceland this summer, but Allardyce believes he has broad enough shoulders to deal with the extra spotlight afforded by leading the national team.

"I like an on-and-off-the-field captain if there is one, but if there isn't one then being an on-the-field captain is the main basis," he said.

"You would hope the captain would make a decision on the pitch if he felt it needed to (be made). For me, that's the captain's role. It's a big responsibility at club level and even more so at international level. First and foremost lead by example.

"It's all about the personality. Can you handle the responsibility of being captain? We've seen some fabulous players in cricket who couldn't handle the captaincy.

"That's the last thing you want to do, name a captain and they are so uncomfortable with it their performance is diminished. We've seen that in cricket a few times.

"I think he (Rooney) has enjoyed the responsibility. Some players don't want that."

Presuming Rooney starts, Dele Alli would have to make do with substitute appearances or a more withdrawn position.

"Wayne is playing behind the front man at Manchester United...Dele Alli has started well too, so that makes it a difficult choice," mused Allardyce.

Belfast Telegraph


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