Wayne Rooney will start as captain in England’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Malta on Saturday, interim boss Gareth Southgate has confirmed.
The 30-year-old has not started a game for Manchester United since the 3-1 EFL Cup win over Northampton Town last month, with manager Jose Mourinho using him as a second-half substitute in the Premier League matches against Leicester City and Stoke City.
Southgate is prepared to play Rooney from the start at Wembley, however, though he would not confirm whether he will be used as a forward or a midfielder.
Asked if Rooney would play from the beginning as captain, Southgate replied: “Yes, he will. He’ll play a good role, I hope.
“I know everyone is keen to know the team. I’m sure it’ll leak out, but I don’t see the point in giving the opposition the advantage of knowing our team.
“His ability to control games, his experience [will be important] – this is a game where we’ll have a lot of the ball. I expect us to be controlling the game.
“We’re going to need to show patience and stick to our principles of playing. We may get an early goal and if we don’t, it’s even more important to stick to our style.
“I want to see an England team that is brave with the ball, in one-on-one opportunities.”
Southgate also confirmed that Theo Walcott, who has scored five goals in eight games for Arsenal this season, will also be handed a starting spot.
“Theo will start. It’s a good moment for him, he’s in good form,” he said. “He’s maturing hugely as a player and he should feel full of confidence.”
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