Trevor Steven: Wayne Rooney's England career is probably over whether he stays at Manchester United, moves to China or returns to Everton

Trevor Steven
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England v France - International Friendly
Rooney is England's all-time leading goalscorer with 53 strikes (Source: Getty)

I'm really surprised that England boss Gareth Southgate didn’t contact Wayne Rooney prior to leaving him out of the Three Lions squad to face Scotland and France next month. I think Rooney – the country’s all-time leading goalscorer – deserved that respect.

Rooney has won 119 caps and is the designated captain, and even though the decision would probably not have come as a huge shock to him, Southgate only needed to pick up the phone for a few minutes.

Irrespective of the whys and wherefores, I believe Rooney’s England days are done. His dynamism is no longer there and that electric pace off the mark which he used to have is now non-existent. He is far less formidable.

Rooney, 31, only started 15 Premier League matches for Manchester United last season and wasn’t able to force his way into the team as a midfielder, even though he was up against players who were not performing.

Southgate is refusing to close the door on Rooney beyond the upcoming games against Scotland and France, but even if he returns to former club Everton and manages to turn back the clock, my gut instinct is his international career is over.

That’s his only chance of proving the doubters wrong, however. If he goes to somewhere like Everton, plays consistently, scores goals and most importantly proves he can effect matches again, then maybe there is a glimmer.

Rooney’s ability to effect games is the most important factor in this debate. Physically, he is a heavy-boned, solid individual and the volume of first-team football he’s played since the age of 16 has taken its toll. He’s not built in the same way as someone like Ryan Giggs, who could still float over the grass at the age of 38 or 39.

If Rooney decides to go to China, where he would make an absolute fortune, or anywhere outside of this country then there is absolutely no hope of him returning to the England camp.

Southgate, meanwhile, has said there are various candidates to take the captaincy long term. I would just give it to Gary Cahill and have done with it. Too much is made about who wears the armband, let’s get on with winning matches.

Cahill has proven he can cope with the responsibility at Chelsea. Tottenham’s Harry Kane as been touted, but I just don’t think he needs that burden. Give it to Cahill.

Trevor Steven is a former England footballer who has played at two World Cups and two European Championships. @TrevorSteven63

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