Wayne Rooney will start as captain in England’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland on Friday, interim boss Gareth Southgate has confirmed.
The 31-year-old was dropped from the team for the 0-0 draw with Slovenia last month after losing his place in the Manchester United starting XI.
Rooney impressed in United’s 3-1 Premier League victory over Swansea City last weekend, however, helping to create Paul Pogba’s opener before setting up both goals for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to become only the third player in Premier League history to reach 100 assists.
And Southgate is prepared to restore him to the first team for the clash at Wembley, having been impressed with his recent displays.
Having told a news conference that Jordan Henderson – the captain against Slovenia –would not wear the armband, Southgate said: “He [Rooney] is in a better place than he was in the last get together in terms of his sharpness.
“I think he’s an experienced player for a game like this, there was no hesitation from me in selecting him. He’s playing well for Manchester United, I think he’s a player who it helps when he gets into a rhythm.”
England are top of Group F after three matches but are only three points above Scotland, who sit fourth.
Southgate has rejected the notion of playing for a draw and has challenged his players to embrace the occasion against their neighbours.
“I think most of them have played in the fixture before. It’s nice for them to remember they are part of history,” he said.
“Some famous players have worn this shirt. It’s the chance to play in a game which might be remembered for years to come.
“We want the right balance between talking about what the fixture means and preparing for whatever comes our way.
“I never like the idea of trying to avoid something [like a defeat]. We want to be positive. We want to be top of the group.
“I’m sure there’s been matches down the years that have been agonising for everyone to watch.
“But this is a young vibrant team who will only get better. I’m confident we’ll be better than we were in our last two matches.”