England manager Gareth Southgate is confident that Manchester United star Wayne Rooney can still add to his 119 international appearances if he stay's fit and finds regular first-team football.
However, Southgate did warn Rooney that a career in China or the United States would not convince the England boss to recall him to the squad. Rooney has been left out of England's team set to face Scotland and France, which was the main topic of discussion at Southgate's press conference according to the Telegraph.
The England squad has been announced女女女— Team FA (@TeamFA) May 25, 2017
Anyone disagree with any of the picks then? pic.twitter.com/OdkbyamGot
“The hope is that he is back, playing really well. With a player of his quality, there is no way we would dismiss him for the future. What I do know is that you’d love to have a fit and strong Wayne Rooney in good form. He has been a fantastic player for us, and if he can reach those levels, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t select him.”
The continued inclusion of 34-year-old Jermain Defoe is a clear message to Rooney that his age is not a concerning factor to Southgate, but the fitness levels of the Manchester United star will be the primary reason Rooney could be back in the England set up.
Rooney started just 15 Premier League games this season, a record that the England manager doesn't feel warrants a place amongst his squad. However, Southgate clearly feels that a career across the pond or in the growing Chinese Super League will not be enough for him to reclaim his place with the England national team.
“I’ve seen bits of [MLS],” Southgate added. “It’s obviously not at the level of the Premier League. I don’t know enough about the league in China if I’m honest. You want your players playing in the biggest possible games. That is the best test for them.”
Mourinho is ready to sell Rooney. Most realistic option is China. #MUFC— FootballTransferNews (@FTransferNews) May 31, 2017
The England manager also spoke about how his players need to take their opportunities and raise their game in order to become legends for their national team.
“People have got to start to step into those shoes,” he said. “There’s an opportunity for people here to write their own headlines, write themselves into England history. We’ve got guys who are not there in terms of a vast number of trophies, but that is going to come. Rashford has already won more than I won. Which is f***ing depressing.”