Wayne Rooney will be given the captain’s armband by Fabian Delph, while wearing the number 10 shirt, in his final England appearance.
Wayne Rooney will wear the number 10 shirt in his final England appearance against the United States on Thursday, but Fabian Delph will be captain from the start.
Rooney, 33, is due to win his 120th and final cap in the friendly match at Wembley, two years on from his last appearance for his country.
Manager Gareth Southgate was reluctant to state when the former Manchester United captain will be introduced into the action, as he wants to ensure certain players get enough game time as part of the preparation for Sunday’s Nations League match with Croatia.
However, he did confirm Manchester City’s Delph will wear the armband for the first time, while Rooney will be able to wear his old number, which was worn by Raheem Sterling at the World Cup.
“The players are very keen Wayne wears the number 10,” Southgate told a news conference on Thursday. “They think it’s a fitting tribute.
“We’ve spoken a lot about doing things are own way over the last two years. We know the legacy part of what we do is huge. All of our group have huge respect for Wayne and it’s fitting that his last game is with the number 10.”
When asked when Rooney would come on as a substitute, Southgate said: “We’ve got a pretty good idea. I don’t want to pin an exact time on because you don’t know how the exact flow of the game is going to go. We want to make sure we get the balance of some younger players we want to look at and making sure our preparation for Sunday is also another priority.”
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) November 14, 2018
“I probably won’t get the armband again, so probably not! I’ll probably keep hold of it,” Delph said initially when asked if he would hand it over.
“When I first came into the England squad, he welcomed me and put an arm round me and made me feel like I am at home. And as soon as he comes on, I will be giving him that armband back.”
Southgate thinks Rooney has slotted back into international training “seamlessly” and has been delighted to see the younger players spend time with the experienced DC United star.
“A lot of the players played with him internationally and at club level and he’s in good form. It’s been a really good experience for a lot of the players who haven’t worked with him before,” he said.
“Those informal chats they have at dinner, to see some of his quality in training and his attitude, it’s been a real positive for us.”
The decision to grant Rooney a final appearance has been met with criticism in some quarters, and Southgate believes such a response has been unfair on a player who became a focal point of the England team as young as 17.
“It’s been disappointing to see him almost have to defend his inclusion,” he said. “The most important thing is that within the group we value what he’s done.
“The hardest thing in football is to cross the white line. You’re the person expected to deliver; very few people in the world can appreciate what that feels like. It’s different to run-of-the-mill players like me!
“He was in the England team front and centre at 17. It’s incredible to live in the spotlight like that and cope. We’re delighted to have him with us. The reaction of the supporters will be very special to him.”