2018 World Cup qualifier: Wayne Rooney back in power

Updated: Nov 11, 2016, 11:40 IST | AFP

England captain Wayne Rooney will return to the starting line-up for his country's 2018 World Cup qualifier against Scotland on Friday, interim manager Gareth Southgate announced yesterday

Wayne Rooney started on the bench in England's last away game to Slovenia, after losing his place in Man United's starting XI. Pic/Getty Images
Wayne Rooney started on the bench in England's last away game to Slovenia, after losing his place in Man United's starting XI. Pic/Getty Images

Trent (United Kingdom): England captain Wayne Rooney will return to the starting line-up for his country's 2018 World Cup qualifier against Scotland on Friday, interim manager Gareth Southgate announced yesterday. Rooney, 31, started on the bench in England's last game, a 0-0 draw away to Slovenia, after losing his place in Manchester United's starting XI. But he has started United's last two games, scoring from range in their 2-1 Europa League defeat at Fenerbahce last week, and will win his 119th cap from the start against Scotland at Wembley.

"He's confident and I think experience in a game like this is important," Southgate told reporters at the St George's Park football centre in Burton-on-Trent, central England. "He's in a better place than he was for the last get-together in terms of his sharpness, his confidence. There was no hesitation to be playing him. He's playing well. He's played well in his last couple of matches for Manchester United. When he's in a rhythm of playing, that helps," he added.

Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate

Rooney takes the captain's armband back from Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, who Southgate confirmed will start. Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane is also in contention to start after proving his fitness in training following his comeback from a seven-week lay-off with an ankle ligament injury.

Southgate said he had a fully fit squad to choose from and all 25 players at his disposal were present at the pre-match training session. England are top of UEFA qualifying Group F after three games, two points above Lithuania and Slovenia and three points clear of old rivals Scotland. England host Spain in a friendly on Tuesday, for what will be the last game of Southgate's four-match stint following the departure of previous manager Sam Allardyce. "What happens to me is not important. We've got to win this game for the country and to be top of the group, heading to (World Cup hosts) Russia.

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