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Stop the constant talk about me, it's a sideshow, insists England skipper Wayne Rooney after midfield debate escalates

Ross McLean
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Rooney was deployed as a midfielder during Allardyce's first match in charge of England (Source: Getty)

England skipper Wayne Rooney believes the uproar regarding his deployment as a midfielder has been a huge overreaction after boss Sam Allardyce was forced to swat away questions following his side’s victory in Slovakia.

Rooney started in midfield as Allardyce began his England reign with 1-0 victory in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier in Trnava, and dropped deeper when Dele Alli was introduced as a second-half substitute.

This tactic appeared to contradict assertions from Allardyce in the build-up to the clash that he viewed Rooney as an attacker and intended to utilise him further forward than his predecessor Roy Hodgson had done during Euro 2016.

Allardyce suggested post-match that it was not up to him to dictate where Rooney played and that he had the freedom to operate wherever he felt was necessary to impact the game. Rooney is adamant there has been enough scrutiny of his role.

“Too much is getting made of about it,” said Rooney, who surpassed David Beckham’s outfield record of 115 England caps against Slovakia.

“I’m playing on the pitch for England. I’m captain of the team and I feel I can do a very good job in the role. It’s headlines for a lot of people but of course it’s about the team and about us winning. I played in that role and helped us win the game.

“I’ve done it my whole career and suddenly it’s big news. It’s not a big thing and I think there’s a big over-reaction to it. I am happy where I’m playing and I think I’m doing a good job.”

Rooney has been pushed further forward this season at club level by new Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho after spending the vast majority of the previous campaign in midfield under then-manager Louis van Gaal.

Despite the furore, Allardyce labelled Rooney’s performance in Slovakia as “brilliant” as a last-gasp Adam Lallana strike handed the England a winning start in their quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.