Gareth Southgate has defended the decision to give Wayne Rooney a farewell match and says Englands senior players are all keen to give him a fitting send-off.
Rooney – who is the nations all-time leading scoring with 53 goals in 119 caps – will make a one-off return to the England squad for Thursdays friendly match against the United States.
He is expected to come on in the second half for a celebratory cameo, and will be given both a guard of honour and the captains armband as well as wearing his iconic No.10 shirt – which is currently worn by Raheem Sterling.
Although England are preparing for a crucial UEFA Nations League clash with Croatia, Southgate says the players were insistent that Rooney receive a fitting tribute.
A lot of the players played with him anyway, both internationally and at club level, and hes in good form with his club coming into this, said Southgate at his pre-match press conference.
In training hes fitted in perfectly, and I think its been a really good experience for a lot of the players who havent worked with him before.
Those informal chats that they have at dinner, to see some of his quality in training, his attitude and mentality. Thats been a real positive for us.
I have to say, its very important to all of us, as a group, that he gets the right sort of send-off. Weve had good discussions about that with the senior players in particularly and theyre very clear.
I think when you look at this sort of situation as a player, you project forward and you look at how people are going to be treated.
And theres enormous respect within this team for all of our former players and they want to make sure this experience is a really good one for Wayne and all his family.
On the No.10 shirt, he added: Weve spoken with the players – because I didnt really want to make those decisions last week – and they are very keen that Wayne wears the No.10, and we believe that is a fitting tribute.
All of our group have huge respect for Wayne and they feel that its fitting that his last game should be in the No.10, and when he puts that shirt on his wall somewhere at the end of his career, thats its been a special night and the 10 is the number he puts there.
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