England boss Roy Hodgson admitted he was unwilling to risk a club versus country row after ruling out skipper Wayne Rooney for his side’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Estonia at Wembley tonight.
Manchester United striker Rooney has been unable to train with his international team-mates at St George’s Park this week having suffered an ankle problem during his club side’s 3-0 Premier League thrashing at Arsenal on Sunday.
The injury will also prevent the 29-year-old, who became the nation’s all-time leading goalscorer in England’s last Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland last month, taking the field in Lithuania on Monday evening.
“He’s got a lot of important Man United games ahead and I would be devastated if we pushed him out there and something happened to increase, if you like, the problem he has with the ankle,” said Hodgson.
“It is a disappointment for Wayne. He is not the type of person or type of player who likes to miss a game. Unfortunately, he received a knock playing against Arsenal fairly late on and we’ve been waiting for the ankle to sort of settle down. It is settling down very well but we don’t want to risk him.”
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill will wear the captain’s armband in Rooney’s absence, while question marks remain over over the fitness of midfielder Michael Carrick and forward Danny Ings who both missed training yesterday.
England have already qualified for next summer’s European Championship finals in France – the Three Lions are the only side to boast a 100 per cent qualifying record – but need to beat either Estonia or Lithuania to be among the top seeds in the tournament draw.
“I don’t understand the seeds. I find it hard to understand how the Fifa rankings work,” added Hodgson. “I don’t understand how we can win 10 and draw three of 13 games, be top of our group and teams above us in the rankings have six points fewer.”