England forward Wayne Rooney will not start when England face Spain in Tuesday’s friendly at Wembley, interim manager Gareth Southgate has revealed.
Captain Rooney and defender Ryan Bertrand missed Monday’s training session as they nursed minor injuries.
They were not immediately ruled out of taking on Julen Lopetegui’s side at Wembley and Southgate was reluctant to give a definitive verdict on the match fitness of either after the rest of his squad had completed training.
But even if Manchester United skipper Rooney is passed fit, he will only be used from the substitutes’ bench, meaning Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson will lead the team.
England are already without forward Harry Kane, who withdrew from the squad on Sunday to continue his bid to return to full fitness having only recently returned from seven weeks out with an ankle injury.
“Both [Rooney and Bertrand] are being assessed for minor issues this morning and we will have a look at them as the day goes on,” Southgate said at his pre-match media conference.
“I don’t know if they will play as yet. I think we’ll have to assess that a bit later. They obviously weren’t ready to train today so they must be doubts, but until we have a closer look later we won’t be sure.”
“I wouldn’t start Wayne in this game anyway so we will decide on which route we will be going,” added Southgate, who also confirmed Joe Hart would start in goal.
“Jordan Henderson will be captain. We have got several leaders and Jordan is one who has shown great responsibility since I’ve been in the role.
“We can’t just have one captain. We have players to share responsibility and Jordan has shown he can do that.
“Everybody else has trained this morning so we are good to go.”
Southgate also launched a defence of striker Daniel Sturridge, who has been limited to 19 minutes of Premier League action over recent weeks having fallen out of Jurgen Klopp’s preferred XI at Liverpool, with the striker having to fend off claims his lack of teamwork was to blame for his spell on the bench.
“He’s a goalscorer, first and foremost,” said Southgate.
“He’s a talented player and goalscorer. His goalscoring record for club and country is phenomenally high. I think his mentality to working with us has been excellent.
“Every striker has a slightly different way of playing and different skillsets they bring to the party. He has some brilliant footwork. He likes to drop into different areas of the field.
“His goal the other night [against Scotland] is a brave header, a difficult header.
“I think all goalscorers are slightly individual in what they do but I don’t see any more of that in Daniel than any other forward. He works for the team, he wants to be part of the team.”
The Spain clash is the last of four matches Southgate is charged with overseeing as interim boss, but he is the heavy favourite to be named Sam Allardyce’s full-time successor.