Wayne Rooney stays as England captain under new manager Sam Allardyce

England captain Wayne Rooney after the national side's early Euro 2016 exit
England captain Wayne Rooney after the national side's early Euro 2016 exit

Wayne Rooney will continue as England captain, with manager Sam Allardyce saying it was an "easy decision".

Rooney is England's record goalscorer and took on the armband from Steven Gerrard a year ago.

Allardyce said Manchester United captain Rooney was "hugely respected by his peers" and has "enjoyed the responsibility" as captain.

The England squad is preparing for Sunday's opening 2018 World Cup qualifier in Slovakia.

Rooney, 30, led Roy Hodgson's England side during Euro 2016, which ended with a disappointing last-16 exit to international minnows Iceland.

But Allardyce said Rooney had been "an excellent captain for England" and as the most senior squad member was the "right choice to lead the team".

"You would hope the captain would make a decision on the pitch if he felt it needed to [be made]," said Allardyce, 61. "For me, that's the captain's role. It's a big responsibility at club level and even more so at international level. First and foremost lead by example.

"It's all about the personality. Can you handle the responsibility of being captain? I think he [Rooney] has enjoyed the responsibility. Some players don't want that responsibility."

Allardyce on Rooney's position

Rooney was employed as a midfielder during Euro 2016 under Hodgson. At Old Trafford this season under Jose Mourinho, Rooney has played in a deeper position behind the striker.

"Wayne Rooney's position has changed at Manchester United and that is where I will play him," Allardyce said.

"Dele Alli has started well too, so that makes it a difficult choice. We'll wait and see, but we are looking at balance of positions.

"We want to have two players in each position and not leave ourselves short. Hopefully we make that selection after this [training camp] and we know the best XI to start with."

Wayne Rooney
Sam Allardyce expects to use Wayne Rooney as an attacking midfielder in line with his evolution at Manchester United

...on first-team experience

England boss Sam Allardyce says he was "concerned" by previous squads, including players inexperienced at first-team level for their clubs.

But he urged those left out of his squad for Sunday's World Cup qualifier in Slovakia to "keep playing very well, and we'll keep watching".

Everton's Ross Barkley missed out as uncapped West Ham winger Michail Antonio got his first call.

"It's the hardest squad I've ever picked because it's England," he said.

"I hope that more and more very difficult decisions have to be made by the form of England players in the Premier League all breaking into the first team, playing regularly," Allardyce added.

"It benefits us if players coming here would be very disappointed at not being in the squad, like Ross Barkley, and the players that aren't picked in the 11 are then disappointed, and say 'come on gaffer I deserve a place' - that's healthy for England."

Former West Ham boss Allardyce said he has not contacted any of the omitted players personally, but added "the door will always be open" for Barkley, who has two goals in four appearances for Everton this season.

Marcus Rashford, who broke into the Manchester United first team in February before rising from England Under-20 to senior level under Roy Hodgson and featuring at Euro 2016, was left out of Allardyce's 23-man squad.

Allardyce said the 18-year-old's inclusion in England's Under-21s "will be invaluable for us later down the line".

"In the past it's been a case of some of the players joining up who haven't played that much for their teams. And that's a bit of a concern," Allardyce added, having spent nearly six weeks picking the squad for England's first major match since exiting Euro 2016 in the last 16.

"We've looked at all avenues, what sort of pre-season they've had, what happened last season, this season, and looked at balance of the squad."

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere also missed out and Allardyce explained: "Jack just hasn't had enough game time. If Jack Wilshere was playing every week for Arsenal he would be in the squad."

...on Antonio

Michail Antonio celebrates with his West Ham team-mates
West Ham's Michail Antonio (centre) could earn his first England cap

Antonio joined West Ham from Nottingham Forest for £7m in 2015 having played for Reading, Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton since starting his career at non-league Tooting & Mitcham. The 26-year-old has scored two goals in his past two games for the Hammers, including in Sunday's 3-1 defeat at Manchester City.

"The quality of the player has shown through in every league he has played," Allardyce said.

"The impact he had at the end of last season and the start of this, his attacking flair, his quality of final-third delivery, and his goal record from a wide position - I think that that journey is something that deserves to be in this squad."

'Important to entertain'

Allardyce was criticised by some fans while at West Ham for not playing what they called "the West Ham way". But the former Bolton and Sunderland boss said he would want to entertain England fans.

"It's about winning and entertaining - particularly at Wembley, entertaining the fans is very, very important," he said.

"Maybe sometimes we have to dig one out here and there - let's be resilient and tough. And let's do what we need to do to get the result, something like Manchester United against Hull City. It all feels so good when you win it like that.

"Hopefully we don't have to do too many like that but it feels nice when that happens."

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