Southgate fine with tough calls


Gareth Southgate insists he is not afraid to make tough selection decisions ahead of his second game in charge of England, away to Slovenia on Tuesday.

Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney was booed by some sections of the Wembley crowd during the 2-0 win over Malta on Saturday after being deployed in midfield.

Southgate must now decide whether to stick with 117-cap Rooney for the trip to Ljubljana as he faces his first key dilemma since taking over on a temporary basis in the wake of Sam Allardyce’s exit.

Any such decisions pale into insignificance to Southgate though, when compared to those made when in charge at cash-strapped Middlesbrough in 2009 when staff had to be let go as the club attempted to cut debts.

“Making some really close friends redundant – that’s probably as big [a decision]as you can get,” the England caretaker manager said.

“I’ve got to make decisions which are right for the team and whenever you select a team, with England, you’re going to leave some [players disappointed].

“You look at the bench [against Malta]and there are guys that are playing every week in the Premier League for their clubs and so you have to be prepared to do that, that’s part and parcel of the job.”

Rooney will dominate the build-up to Tuesday’s match, having last week admitted United boss Jose Mourinho was right to drop him following a poor display against Watford.

The 30-year-old joined up with England having spent three consecutive matches on the bench, but Southgate was “very pleased” by his display against Malta and does not appear overly concerned by Rooney’s lack of game time at United.

“I think at this moment in time that’s irrelevant,” he added. “Part of that is because we’ve got 30 per cent of the Premier League eligible for England.