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England return not out of question for Wayne Rooney, says England manager Gareth Southgate Featured

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Published in England Premier League
Tuesday, 30 May 2017 10:52

England manager Gareth Southgate says he has not ruled out a return to the side for Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.

All-time leading goalscorer Rooney has only started 15 league games for his club this season and was not included in the previous squad in March because of injury.

And Southgate revealed that he did not speak to the 31-year-old, who has been linked with a move to China in the summer, before announcing his squad.
"There are only so many times you can speak about the situation," said Southgate.

However, the former Aston Villa defender insisted that Rooney could still return to the squad, adding his international career 'doesn't have to be over'.

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  • Harry Kane's hot streak continues as England win in Lithuania

    LFF Stadium, World Cup qualifying Group F - Lithuania 0 England 1 (Kane pen 27')

    Harry Kane’s hot streak continued as he scored the winner in England’s 1-0 victory over Lithuania in their final qualifying match ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
    Having already won Group F after a 1-0 victory over Slovenia on Thursday, manager Gareth Southgate made seven changes to his team, handing Harry Winks and Harry Maguire debuts in a 3-4-3 formation for the match in Vilnius.

    In a disjointed performance, Dele Alli, back in the side after suspension, won a first-half penalty when he was felled by Ovidijus Verbackas. His Tottenham team-mate Kane duly dispatched the spot-kick for his 15th goal in his last 10 matches for club and country.

    Michael Keane had earlier gone close for the visitors, but in truth, England offered little in the way of clear-cut chances thereafter.

    Tottenham’s Winks was denied a goal on his debut when his shot was well saved by Ernestas Setkus, but it was Lithuania – who won only once in Group F – who threatened most; Jack Butland was forced into a good stop as Keane almost inadvertently sent the ball into his own net, while Deivydas Matulevicius spurned a late opportunity.
    Once again England did just enough to record the three points - they are now unbeaten in their last four campaigns in qualifying for major tournaments - but it was another unimaginative and unconvincing display from Southgate’s side.

    TALKING POINT

    3-4-3 isn't the answer for insipid England: Southgate opted for an experimental 3-4-3 formation, and while England’s front-three, Marcus Rashford, Alli and Kane, linked-up well, at times in the first half, the showing after the restart was incredibly flat and one-paced.

    There was at least some cause for optimism as the performance of debutant Winks in the centre of the park indicated the Spurs playmaker may have a role to play in Russia, while Harry Maguire, also making his debut, looked OK in defence.
    But all-in-all, it was simply not good enough. Southgate should probably go back to basics for the home friendlies against Brazil and Germany in November.

    MAN OF THE MATCH

    Marcus Rashford (England) - The Manchester United youngster was at nowhere near his brilliant best, but was probably England's stand-out player in the first half and looked most likely to make things happen.

    PLAYER RATINGS

    Lithuania: Setkus 7, Andriuskevicius 5, Klimavicius 5, Girdvainis 5, Borovskij 5, Zulpa 5, Slivka 5, Verbickas 4, Cernych 5, Novikovas 5, Sernas 6. Subs: Matulevicius 5,

    England: Butland 6, Keane 6, Maguire 7, Stones 6, Trippier 6, Winks 7, Henderson 5, Cresswell 7, Alli 7, Kane 7, Rashford 7. Subs: Sturridge 6, Lingard 6.

    KEY MOMENTS

    11’ - THE HOSTS SHOULD BE AHEAD! Sernas peels away from Maguire at the back post as a cross comes in, but somehow slices his first-time effort wide of the goal from inside the box. A let off for England!

    24’ - KEANE GOES CLOSE! Lithuania fail to clear Cresswell's deep free-kick, and the ball eventually sits up nicely for Keane just inside the box, but the Everton defender screws his first-time volley wide of the goal. That is the closest England have come.

    26’ - PENALTY TO ENGLAND! Alli is brought down inside the box by Verbickas, and the referee has no choice other than to point to the spot. This is the perfect chance for Kane to put the visitors ahead...
    27’ - GOAL - KANE SCORES! A superb penalty from England's talisman as he sends the ball into the bottom left corner. The goalkeeper dived the right way but couldn't get near it.

    52’ – CHANCE FOR WINKS! Setkus isn't at all convincing as he punches Cresswell's dangerous cross right into the path of Winks, but he makes amends with a smart save from the Tottenham playmaker's shot. Almost a debut goal for Winks.

    54’ - CHANCE FOR LITHUANIA! A dangerous low ball into the England box causes Keane all sorts of problems, and in an effort to concede a corner he almost inadvertently sends it into his own net! He is bailed out by Butland who makes a good reactive save.

    83’ - GREAT CHANCE TO EQUALISE! Matulevicius is released behind the England defence and the ball sits up perfectly for him, but his half-volley is struck straight at Butland who gathers on the second attempt. Either side of him and it was a goal.

    KEY STATS

    Harry Kane has scored 15 goals in his last 10 matches in all competitions for club and country.
    Of the 43 goals that Harry Kane has scored for club and country in 2017, only four have been penalties.
    A Spurs player has been directly involved in nine of England's last 11 goals across all competitions.
    England end their Group F programme with eight clean sheets in 10 matches.
    England have won all four of their previous encounters with Lithuania on the international stage, scoring 10 and conceding none in the process.

  • Harry Kane sends England to Russia World Cup with stoppage-time winner

    World Cup Qualifier, Wembley – England 1 (Harry Kane 94’) Slovenia 0

    Harry Kane struck at the death as England booked their place at the 2018 World Cup finals despite an underwhelming display in a 1-0 win over Slovenia at Wembley.

    Gareth Southgate's side knew their fate was in their own hands, but laboured for long spells until Kane pounced in stoppage time to claim his 14th goal in his last nine matches for club and country.
    Scotland's victory over Slovakia meant a point would have been enough in the end, but this England side's habit for scoring late on resurfaced at just the right time to ensure they rounded off their Wembley campaign on a positive note.

    The result means the Three Lions are six points clear of second-placed Scotland, with just one game to play in Group F.

    England will now look to remain unbeaten in qualifying when they visit Lithuania on Sunday.

    TALKING POINT

    Mission accomplished in underwhelming fashion for Southgate, but the big test is yet to come. Overall, it's been a qualifying campaign littered with average performances and a hint of controversy - but at the end of it all it is a case of job done. Southgate answered the SOS call following Sam Allardyce's ever so brief reign and has steered his side through a group they were always expected to top. Of course, England sides of recent years have been fine in qualifying, but it's at the major tournaments where they come up way short. Clocking up so many qualifying matches without a loss is no mean feat, but there's no doubt England will have to improve if they are to make any sort of significant impression when faced with sterner tests in Russia next summer. Expectations will remain low based on this evidence.
    MAN OF THE MATCH

    Marcus Rashford (England). The Manchester United starlet is the go-to man when it come to looking for a spark in this England side. Could and perhaps should have scored in the second half, but most of England's good moments came through him on the left until Kane stole the headlines in the 94th minute. Rashford turns 20 later this month and seems a shoe-in for a starting berth in Russia next summer.
    PLAYER RATINGS

    ENGLAND: Hart 8, Walker 7, Bertrand 7, Stones 7, Cahill 7, Henderson 6, Dier 6, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6, Sterling 6, Rashford 8, Kane 6. Subs: Lingard 6, Keane n/a.

    SLOVENIA: Oblak 7, Struna 6, Mevlja 6, Cesar 6, Jokic 6, Rotman 6, Krhin 6, Bezjak 6, Ilicic 7, Verbic 6, Sporar 6. Subs: Birsa 7, Repas 6, Matavz 7.

    Matchcast: Full match stats and commentary


    9' - PENALTY SHOUT! Josip Ilicic makes a clever dart to the right of the penalty area and is rewarded with a corner as Hart came to block. The Slovenian looks at the referee quizzically. Replays show the keeper didn't get the ball and appeared to catch the forward's heel. Let off for England?

    45+1' - ENGLAND CHANCE. Rashford tries to catch Oblak out with a low free kick towards the near post, but the keeper is alert to the danger and pushes it wide.

    63' - ENGLAND CHANCE. England break from a Slovenia corner. Sterling leads the charge and lays it into the path of Rashford who goes for the lob over the advancing keeper but sees it hacked clear inside the six-yard box.

    69' - ENGLAND CHANCE. Rashford causes problems on the left once more. He finds Sterling, who sees his shot blocked before Kane flashes the follow-up just past the far post.
    85' - SLOVENIA CHANCE. Hart comes out to bravely save at the feet of Tim Matavz after the Slovenia striker was sent clear. The keeper then saves the follow-up. Replays showing it should have been flagged offside - but Hart didn't know that.

    90+4' - GOAL! ENGLAND 1-0 SLOVENIA. Kane lifts the mood inside Wembley as he slides home Walker's cross after the full back had seized upon Oblak's over-anxious early throw out. England are heading to Russia!

    KEY STATS

    England have lost just one of their last 19 matches at home, and none in the last eight, winning eight and drawing one.

    England qualify for World Cup for 6th successive time, equalling their record. They also participated in six in a row from 1950 to 1970.

    Kane's previous international home goal was on 22 May 2016, in England's 2-1 friendly win against Turkey at Etihad Stadium.

  • Dele Alli banned for one game by FIFA for middle-finger gesture

    England midfielder Dele Alli has been handed a one-match ban by FIFA for his middle-finger gesture during the World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.

    The incident came about during England’s 2-1 victory at the start of September, when Alli was frustrated by referee Clement Turpin’s failure to give a free-kick for what he felt was a foul by Martin Skrtel.
    Alli was caught on camera sticking up his middle finger, but after the match claimed it was directed at his former club team-mate Kyle Walker, with the Football Association submitting evidence to try and prove this.

    He could have received a suspension of up to four matches, but FIFA have decided to hand the Tottenham player a one-match ban.

    World football's governing body said in a statement that although the gesture was "allegedly directed at team-mate" it was still "offensive and unsporting."

    It means that Alli will miss the match against Slovenia at Wembley on October 5, but is free to play in the clash in Lithuania three days later.

  • Aimless England muddle through it, Northern Ireland show us how to do it

    Adam Hurrey searches for a Belfast grandparent as England show little reason to feel optimistic for the World Cup in 2018...

  • Southgate keeps faith with Hart, calling him England's 'best goalkeeper'

    Gareth Southgate is keeping the faith with Joe Hart as England's number one, insisting he remains the best goalkeeper in the country.

    Speaking ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier against Malta, Southgate declined to offer details of his outfield selections or chosen captain but made a point of confirming Hart would retain the gloves at the Ta'Qali National Stadium.

    The 30-year-old has endured a rocky start to his season-long loan at West Ham, conceding 10 goals in his first three matches, and the competition from Jack Butland, Tom Heaton and Jordan Pickford is only getting stronger.

    But Southgate was clear that the status quo has yet to be overturned, with Hart's record of conceding just twice in six qualifiers counting in his favour.
    "Joe will start for us. I think he's our best goalkeeper at the moment," he said.

    "I wanted to see how he would respond because he has had a difficult start to the season with his club but I'm pleased he's in a good frame of mind. Joe has trained really well.

    "His performances since I've been manager have been very, very good, he's only conceded two goals in Scotland in this qualifying campaign."

    While Southgate was emphatic in standing up for Hart, he gave just enough hope to the challengers that it was not a lost cause before next summer's World Cup.
    "We're only three matches into the start of the season, so I don't feel as though the others have had time to stake a claim to push Joe out of that position," he explained.

    "But we've got three excellent goalkeepers here, there's Jordan who was with us (before withdrawing through injury), and Fraser Forster, who is very unfortunate not to be in the squad.

    "I'm fascinated to see how they all get on over the next few months."

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