Football

Southgate sticks with Rooney as captain

New England boss keeps faith with veteran; wants Three Lions to be world-class team

New England manager Gareth Southgate intends to keep Wayne Rooney as national captain, but stressed the role did not come with a guaranteed starting place.

Southgate faced the media at Wembley yesterday morning, a day after signing a four-year deal - with no break clause - and was immediately pressed on Rooney's status.

The country's leading scorer has endured an indifferent season on the field and, during the last international break, found himself in an unwanted media furore when pictures emerged of him socialising with guests in the early hours at the team hotel.

Southgate will review the protocols around how free time is spent during international breaks as a priority, but he will not be reassigning the captaincy.

Instead, Rooney will continue as skipper, as long as he is on the pitch.

"Wayne is England captain," said Southgate.

"I think I said that at the beginning of the interim period, but what's also clear is I've selected him to start in only two of the four matches we've had.

"Obviously, it's not the case that Wayne expects to play every game. It's important for me to develop more leaders in that group. If we're going to be successful, we need to develop leadership, develop resilience and that's one of the key areas.

"Wayne has played an important part for England up to this point and I'm sure he can do that in the future, but we also have to develop others."

Southgate also spoke of his intention to redefine the culture around the England side.

Rooney was by no means the only player whose evening exploits were highlighted following a night off between games against Scotland and Spain last month and new guidelines are a certainty, with Southgate concerned that some of the practices currently in place are not in line with that of an elite sporting team.

But, rather than dictate to the squad, he wants them to be involved in and committed to the process.

"I think being an England player comes with added responsibility to that of a player who plays club football, but I don't think laying down the law is necessary with this group of players," he noted.

"I like to treat players with respect, treat them like adults and there has got to be trust between coach and players.

"We want to develop an elite team, we want to be a world-class team so every aspect of our training and preparation has got to work towards that."

The 46-year-old's pay is thought to be nearer £2 million ($3.6m), with performance-related incentives, and he was clear that his four-year deal came with no built-in caveats.

"No, there's no break clause," he said. "I'm taking over at a point where the last two tournaments haven't been as successful as we'd like.

"There's big potential in the squad, but a lot of hard work ahead." - PA SPORT.

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