Gareth Southgate: England's interim boss believes they need leaders

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Gareth Southgate ready to 'step up' and lead England

England need leaders as they look to move forward following the departure of manager Sam Allardyce, says interim boss Gareth Southgate.

The 46-year-old vacated his role as under-21s boss to take temporary charge of the national team last week.

On Sunday, he named his first squad for the games against Malta and Slovenia.

He confirmed that Wayne Rooney will remain as captain, describing the Manchester United forward as "the outstanding leader in the group".

But he added: "We can't just have one leader, we need a team of leaders. That needs to emerge before we head to Russia [for the World Cup in 2018]."

When asked about retaining striker Rooney as captain, he said: "Wayne bears a big burden for this team. Too much at times.

"After a period of change over the summer and now this month, the most important thing at this time is leadership, both on and off the field, and Wayne has provided that over the last two years.

"The way he has matured into the role is really impressive and there was no doubt in my mind about keeping him in that position."

Southgate on his future

Gareth Southgate (second from left)
Gareth Southgate's under-21 side finished bottom of their group at the 2015 European Championship finals

Allardyce left his post as England manager by mutual agreement with the Football Association last week after just one match and 67 days in charge.

It followed a newspaper investigation claiming he offered advice on how to "get around" rules on player transfers.

Southgate, who revealed he had shared messages with Allardyce following his departure, would not be drawn on whether he had aspirations to succeed him in the role on a permanent basis.

"We have an opportunity to work with young players who need guidance," he said. "We need to provide stability. I have not had chance to think about anything other than this week. Everything else can wait."

"The role is an honour. I am a proud and patriotic Englishman and I am excited by the challenge. It is a wonderful job to have for whatever period of time."

Southgate on alleged corruption in football

Sam Allardyce (right)
Sam Allardyce held the England manager role for just 67 days

Allardyce's dismissal came about following revelations published by the Daily Telegraph as part of their investigation into alleged corruption in English football.

The paper alleged that eight current or ex-Premier League managers have taken bribes for player transfers, although the agent who made these claims has since told the BBC that he lied.

When asked about the situation, Southgate said: "I am involved in a sport I love and an industry that, at times, I don't like.

"Representing my country was something that I loved and those are the bits that I want to focus on."

Southgate on his squad

Marcus Rashford and Gareth Southgate
Marcus Rashford scored a hat-trick on his U21s debut against Norway on his debut last month.

Southgate called up Manchester United pair Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford plus Stoke full-back Glen Johnson to the squad to face Malta on Saturday, 8 October and Slovenia three days later.

Lingard and Rashford have both recently played for Southgate with the under-21s.

"He [Rashford] was outstanding for us last month," said Southgate. "You can all see his ability but what impressed me most was his mentality. He was still the youngest in the Under-21 squad but took to that no problem at all.

"Jesse is a player we were impressed with in the under-21s. He is establishing himself in Jose's [Mourinho] team which speaks volumes for the level he is hitting. It is an exciting moment to bring him in."

Johnson returns for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.

The former Liverpool and Chelsea right-back, 32, has won 54 caps so far but has only played in three Premier League matches this season following a seven-month lay-off with a knee injury.

"In the past, we have gone young, young, young and there's only so long you can do that," added Southgate.

"In key pressure moments there is a lack of big-match experience. To be able to bring a player in with 50-plus caps was something we thought long and hard about but felt it was the right call."

England squad to face Malta and Slovenia

Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Torino, on loan from Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley)

Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Stoke), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)

Midfielders: Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Michail Antonio (West Ham), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Dele Alli (Tottenham)

Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

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