Gareth Southgate has confirmed Wayne Rooney WILL start for England against Malta, although the Three Lions manager refused to reveal in which position the captain will play.
Southgate, who is set to take charge of his first game following his promotion to caretaker manager following Sam Allardyce’s sacking, also claimed the in-form Theo Walcott will be in the starting XI as England look to make it two wins from two in their World Cup qualifying group.
“Yes he will (start). No I can’t (confirm his position),” Southgate told a press conference in St Albans, before also revealing Walcott, who was sat beside him, would start.
“I know everybody is keen to know the team early. The players are aware of the team. I’m sure the team will leak out, I know that’s what happens, but I don’t see the point of giving the opposition the advantage of knowing our team.”
Although refusing to divulge which position Rooney will play, after a number of months which have seen the Manchester United captain move from striker to number 10 to holding midfielder and back again, Southgate did praise his skipper’s ability to control a game.
When asked on what Rooney offers England, the 46-year-old said: “Well I think his ability to control games, his experience.
“I think this is a game where we will have a lot of the ball. In the past few matches Malta have had 35, 40 per cent of the ball so I expect us to control the game and we’re going to have to show patience.
“I want us to be brave with the ball. One of the messages I wanted to get across to the players this week was I want to see an England team that are brave in possession and prepared to take chances, prepared to risk in one v one situations.”