England boss Gareth Southgate has made it clear that Wayne Rooney’s international career is far from over.
The Manchester United forward was left out of the squad for the friendly defeat to Germany and Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania due to a knee injury and a lack of first-team football.
Rooney’s future at Old Trafford remains the subject of intense speculation but the 31-year-old is reportedly eager to fight to regain his spot in Southgate’s plans, as well as the captain’s armband.
And Southgate has himself rejected the notion that England’s record goalscorer should consider his time on the international stage to be at an end.
“He’s absolutely in my thinking,” said the former Middlesbrough manager. “I didn’t understand why we were talking about tributes when he still has every chance of being in this team. There’s no reason why he’s finished with us.”
Rooney’s prospects of returning to the England set-up were placed in further doubt on Monday when he did not attend a meeting to which players in the squad and those hoping to force their way back in were invited.
Southgate, however, saw nothing wrong with Rooney’s absence given that injured Tottenham duo Harry Kane and Danny Rose also did not attend.
“We had nine players and Harry Kane and Danny Rose and others had to have treatment and Wayne the same,” said Southgate. “It was no problem. The more important thing for me was those guys felt they’d been invited.”
England face Lithuania at Wembley looking for a win that would keep them top of Group F.