Gareth Southgate says he has left Wayne Rooney out of the England team to face Slovenia on Tuesday evening for purely footballing reasons.
Three Lions skipper Rooney will start on the bench for the World Cup qualifier in Ljubljana, with Jordan Henderson set to be handed the captain’s armband and be partnered by Eric Dier in central midfield.
Iit’s based on the profile of the opposition and the type of player we believe we need from this game.
Rooney was criticised in some quarters for his performance in the 2-0 Wembley win over Malta on Saturday, with the Manchester United ace having struggled to make a major impact since being switched to a deeper midfield role.
However, interim head coach Southgate was quick to point out that Rooney remains a key member of the England squad and will remain in place as captain.
He told reporters: “It is a football decision – it’s based on the profile of the opposition and the type of player we believe we need from this game.
“It’s very straightforward. We’ve looked at Slovenia and the way they play and from when I looked at it, I’ve had in my mind the profile of the midfield that we wanted to play.
“In no way is it a reflection on his performance on Saturday. In fact we were very pleased with what he did.
“He had a lot of the ball and played with great tactical discipline. It’s not an easy decision to take because of the respect I have for him as the captain of this team.”
Southgate will also have to make a change at left-back with Ryan Bertrand ruled out by a hamstring problem, with Danny Rose set to deputise.
England have won all four of their previous meetings with Slovenia and are 7/10 to claim three points on Tuesday evening, with the draw priced at 27/10, while Henderson can be backed at 9/2 to score at any time.