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Wayne Rooney to play in No10 role as England captain for Sam Allardyce

Wayne Rooney has been asked to spearhead England’s 2018 World Cup qualification campaign. Photograph: Michael Regan/The FA via Getty Images
Wayne Rooney has been asked to spearhead England’s 2018 World Cup qualification campaign. Photograph: Michael Regan/The FA via Getty Images

Sam Allardyce has confirmed that Wayne Rooney will continue as England’s captain but the manager warned Marcus Rashford it will be difficult to force his way back into the squad unless the teenager can convince José Mourinho he should start playing regularly for Manchester United.

Allardyce announced Rooney would continue with the armband during his inaugural meeting with the players at St George’s Park before his first game in charge as manager, against Slovakia on Sunday. Rooney, England’s record scorer, has been asked to spearhead the team’s 2018 World Cup qualification campaign and Allardyce intends to use him in the No10 role, despite the Football Association listing him as a midfielder in the squad announcement.

With Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli also in the squad, Allardyce has linked this directly to Ross Barkley’s omission, despite acknowledging the Everton player had impressed him with a “fantastic start” to the new season.

Rashford is also missing and Allardyce confirmed the 18-year-old was paying the price for his lack of starts since Mourinho took over at Old Trafford and brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic to play in United’s attack. Rashford’s late winner, as a substitute, at Hull on Saturday has led to questions about why one of the few England players to come out well from Euro 2016 was demoted last week into the Under‑21s, for their game against Norway at Colchester on 6 September. Yet Allardyce insisted it was not a mistake when it was put to him that England’s chances in Slovakia would have been improved by Rashford’s presence.

“As soon as he scored that goal I was pleased for him and I knew it would bring a bit of: ‘Why have you not included him?’ I just hope what he did in 15 minutes or so makes José put him in the team more, which makes my choice when it comes round next time easier,” Allardyce said. “If he plays on a regular basis for Manchester United he will be in my squad.”

Allardyce was, however, willing to pick Joe Hart and Chris Smalling when neither has featured in the Premier League this season and he also acknowledged it had been a “difficult time” for Daniel Sturridge, another player he has called up despite being out of favour for his club team. Smalling’s selection, he admitted, stemmed from there being “not a lot of options” in central defence and Sturridge had been given the benefit of the doubt because “the goals he scores are always at the back of your mind”.

Allardyce said it was “an easy decision” to continue with Rooney as captain – “he is the most senior member of the squad and hugely respected by his peers” – and he also explained why Barkley and Jack Wilshere had been left out.

“I wouldn’t say I don’t fancy them. Ross is a difficult one but the change of position for Wayne makes it difficult for Ross. It may be that Wayne is listed on the squad as a midfielder but he is playing behind the front man at Manchester United,” the England manager said. “Dele Alli has started well, too, so that makes it a difficult choice. As for Jack, he just hasn’t had enough game time. Unfortunately, he isn’t playing. If Jack Wilshere was playing every week for Arsenal, then he’d be in this squad but unfortunately he isn’t.” According to reports on Monday, Arsenal are considering letting Wilshere leave the club on loan in order to reinvigorate his stop-start career there.

Allardyce evidently sees Rooney in the No10 role, with Alli as back-up in a squad where the manager has tried to find two players for each position. Barkley has dropped out as a result, even though Allardyce also seemed concerned about Alli’s position for his club. “I watched Harry Kane play in the No10 role for Tottenham,” he said. “What does that do for Dele Alli?”

The manager will hold his first training session on Tuesday and, in his determination to keep the squad entertained, he plans to invite Paddy McGuinness and Bradley Walsh to host a quiz night for the players at a future date. “A bit of fun,” Allardyce said. “Christ, I haven’t come here to be miserable.”

This article was first and originally published in theguardian.

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