England remain top of Group F in World Cup 2018 qualification despite being held to a 0-0 draw in Slovenia following another underwhelming display, coming just three days after they laboured to a 2-0 win against Malta, ranked 176th in the world by Federation Internationale de Football Association.
Now he must wait another month before a qualifier at home to Scotland and a friendly versus Spain, after which the English Football Association are expected to make a decision on his future.
Rooney’s ineffective display in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Malta was the latest in a long string of underwhelming showings and ultimately brought about his omission from the starting XI, but England were not much better in his absence, with Hart rescuing them several times. “It was a brilliant, outstanding save – that got us the point”.
“Of course, I do [believe I can come back from this]”.
“I’ve been very impressed with him”, Southgate said.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will lead the side out in Ljubljana as England look to maintain their flawless start to qualifying, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier – a specialist defensive midfielder – starting instead of Rooney.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s World Cup qualifier, Southgate praised Rooney for his professionalism and said that he has a future with the team as captain.
Dier, the other player Southgate preferred to Rooney in midfield, made a less accomplished start as he attempted a backpass without looking and Slovenia striker Roman Bezjak pounced to surge clear for a shot that Hart saved well. “A time comes when you’re not the first name on the team sheet, which I have been in the past”.
He said: “It is my best game for a while, it was hard to say”.
With Rooney benched, Southgate decided that Jordan Henderson was most deserving of the armband – a decision that went down as well with some people as the Liverpool midfielder’s attempts to channel his inner Ronaldinho.
“I’m told it was just he’s reacted to someone raising their hands at Marcus [Rashford]”, Southgate said. Players re-evaluate and work out the best way to move forwards.
“I actually don’t know what happened”.
Rooney, sitting alongside Southgate in a news conference, said he was in a “difficult period”.
However, despite impressing as England’s best player in the victory over Malta last Saturday, Henderson almost cost his side the match with one moment of complacency.