Wayne Rooney: England manager Gareth Southgate backs 'influential' captain

Gareth Southgate watches his England side as Wayne Rooney looks on from the bench
Rooney (back row, far left) came on in the 73rd minute of England's 0-0 draw with Slovenia in the 2018 World Cup qualifier in October

England interim boss Gareth Southgate says captain Wayne Rooney is still "hugely influential", despite the forward's poor Manchester United form.

Rooney's last three Premier League appearances have been off the bench.

Southgate, who omitted Rooney for England's World Cup qualifying draw in Slovenia this month, said his leadership was "hugely impressive".

Ex-England captain Alan Shearer said Rooney, 31, needs to leave United if he wants to play in the 2018 World Cup.

"If he wants to succeed in his ambition to play in the 2018 World Cup, then he must move clubs," Shearer told the Sun.

"It looks unlikely he can achieve both. He will not get picked for England if he is not playing regularly."

Southgate said Rooney, who has 118 caps, still has plenty to offer.

He added: "He's the England captain and, although he didn't start in Slovenia, to me he is a hugely influential figure in that group and that won't change.

"I thought his leadership qualities in the 10 days with us shone through. I could see how he's held in the eyes of the rest of the players and the positive influence he has in that environment."

Southgate's initial four-game spell in charge ends with a World Cup 2018 qualifier at home to Scotland on Friday, 11 November and a home friendly against Spain on Wednesday, 15 November.

"Let's see what that scenario is," Southgate said of the role Rooney would be likely to play.

"I haven't spoken to him since the camp but I'm always conscious players are back into a run of fixtures with their clubs.

"I will pick up with him and the others later."

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