England captain Wayne Rooney is set to be dropped to the bench for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.
Barring any last-minute injuries, manager Gareth Southgate will leave Rooney out of the starting XI as England look to preserve a 100% record.
Southgate will address the press in Slovenia at 18:30 BST on Monday.
Rooney is England’s most-capped outfield player, making his 117th international appearance in the 2-0 win against Malta on Saturday.
However, his performances recently have been heavily criticised and the 30-year-old was booed by sections of the Wembley crowd at the weekend, when he operated in a deep-lying midfield role. Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier played in that position during Euro 2016.
Interim national boss Southgate defended his captain after Saturday’s game, saying the criticism was “at times unfair”.
Rooney for England in stats
- 11 -Playing four games as a forward and six in midfield, Rooney has had more shots on target than England player over their last 10 appearances. Daniel Sturridge has had 10, Harry Kane nine.
- 550 – Rooney has made the second most number of passes of any England player over the last 10 appearances. Only Jordan Henderson has more with 628. Eric Dier has made 545.
- 85.09 – Rooney’s pass accuracy % is the fourth best of any England player over the last 10 games, beaten by Dier (90.09), Ross Barkley (88.92), Henderson (88.22) and Theo Walcott (87.02).
‘Rooney is not the youngest any more’
Slovenia manager Srecko Katanec says it will not surprise him if Rooney is left out by England as he feels the player “is not the youngest any more and his form has taken a little dip”.
“Wayne Rooney is a leader of this team, he has the experience a captain needs and it is quite hard to substitute him or leave him out,” continued Katanec, whose side have four points in World Cup qualifying group F following a draw with Lithuania and victory over Slovakia.
He added: “Because of his experience and quality I would rather he would not start than he does start.”
Fans’ jeering leaves team-mates “shocked”
Rooney’s team-mates were left “shocked” by some fans’ treatment of the player, who has scored one goal in 12 games for club and country this season and is currently not being picked for Manchester United’s last three matches.
Manchester City defender John Stones believes England’s record goalscorer is a victim of his own high standards, after scoring 53 goals in 117 appearances for his country.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve and gives 110% and you can see that in every performance,” said defender Stones, 22. “I am a bit shocked that the booing happened.
“He is always up there and on form. The top players are always going to get the stick that gets piled on them because of the standards he sets.”
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has captained England before in Rooney’s absence, including the final group game of Euro 2016 against Slovakia.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart and current Manchester United captain Chris Smalling have also performed the role in the past.
Midfielder Henderson is the current Liverpool captain.
England’s victory over Malta on Saturday gave them two wins out of two to leave them top of World Cup qualifying group F, two points ahead of second-placed Scotland.