London, United KingdomOct 10, 2016, 04.26 PM (IST)
England captain Wayne Rooney is set to be benched from the World Cup qualifier against Slovenia on Tuesday, according to media reports.
As England prepares to maintain its 100 per cent record, manager Gareth Southgate has decided to name the Manchester United striker among the substitutes for the game in Ljubljana, BBC and Sky Sports reported.
Southgate is likely to name Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson as his two deep-lying central midfielders, Sky Sports reported.
Rooney, with 117 appearances, is England's most capped outfield player but has recently faced criticism for his performances. The Manchester United player has scored just once in 12 games this season and only once in the last seven internationals.
The 82,000-strong Wembley crowd booed the striker near the end of their 2-0 win in a World Cup qualifier over Malta on Saturday.
Southgate defended Rooney saying his experience was crucial to the team and that the criticism was 'at times unfair'.
"He ploughs on and plays with pride and captains his country with pride," said the interim boss who took over after the resignation of Sam Allardyce last month. "I think his experience, his leadership has been crucial throughout this week, not just today."
Rooney has been a substitute in Manchester United's last three games. Southgate added he was not overly concerned that Rooney had been left out of United's recent starting sides.
"I think at this moment in time that`s irrelevant," said former England defender Southgate. "Part of that is because we`ve got 30 percent of the Premier League eligible for England. Of that, some don`t want to play; of that, some aren't good enough to play. And you've got a captain who is desperate to lead on and off the field and continues to make an outstanding contribution to that group of players. So that was why he was selected. What's happening at Manchester United for this week is not as important."
Slovenia coach Srecko Katanec said he hoped Rooney would not be playing against his side. "Because of his experience and quality, I would rather he would not start than he does start."
Southgate is expected to announce the captain in a news conference later in Slovenia.