Wayne Rooney: Gareth Southgate Not Afraid Of Dropping England Captain

Southgate and Rooney
Gareth Southgate, left, and Wayne Rooney at Wembley Stadium, London, October 8. Southgate faces a dilemma over whether to select Rooney against Slovenia on Tuesday. IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty

Interim England manager Gareth Southgate insists he is not afraid of dropping captain Wayne Rooney for the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Slovenia on Tuesday.

Southgate opted to start Rooney in central midfield, alongside Jordan Henderson, for Saturday's 2-0 victory over Malta at Wembley Stadium, but the decision was met with boos by sections of the crowd.

Despite Southgate saying he "didn't understand" the reaction of some England fans, the former Middlesbrough boss suggested he would not shrink from leaving Rooney out of his team.

"I've got to make decisions which are right for the team and whenever you select a team, with England, you're going to leave some guys on the bench that are playing every week in the Premier League for their club," Southgate said.

"You have to be prepared to do that. That's part and parcel of the job."

Rooney was undeniably outshone by Henderson, who played a large part in both England goals, scored by Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli.

Southgate said he was "very pleased" with Rooney's performance but recognized Tuesday's opponents would offer a greater threat than Malta.

"Slovenia is a completely different game," the 46-year-old added. "We are likely to be playing against a different tactical system and away from home, so we have to assess all those things with all the players to pick the right team for that game."

Southgate called Kieran Gibbs up to the squad after Ryan Bertrand suffered a hamstring strain midway through the first half.