As expected, Wayne Rooney was on Thursday afternoon confirmed as Steven Gerrard’s successor as the new captain of England.
Following the disastrous World Cup Finals campaign in Brazil, Gerrard announced his retirement from international football which also made the armband available. Rooney, who was also recently named Manchester United skipper, was the obvious choice to succeed the Liverpool star, particularly following Frank Lampard’s decision to quit England duty.
And speaking as he announced his squad for the forthcoming friendly against Norway at Wembley on 3 September, and the opening Euro 2016 qualifier against Switzerland in Basle five days later, Hodgson confirmed Rooney as his new skipper. And with 95 caps and 40 goals to his name, the national coach felt the 28-year-old the obvious choice.
“Wayne is an obvious choice for his honesty, commitment to the cause, his experience, the fact he has already captained England in the past,” he said. “Now of course he’s got that responsibility at Manchester United as well. All those factors weighed into my thought process and I’m pleased to be able to say I’ve been able to offer it to him. I had a long conversation with him and he’s prepared to accept the pressures it brings.”
Just nine goals behind Sir Bobby Charlton in the all-time goalscorer charts for England, and 30 appearances off Peter Shilton’s record 125 caps, the former Everton youngster may well feel he has time to surpass both before he hangs up his boots. But that is for the future; now, in the present, the striker is just thrilled to be honoured with the captaincy.
“To be named as England captain is a dream come true for me personally and of course my family,” Rooney told thefa.com. “It is something that I will take massive pride in doing. As a kid I always loved watching a big England game on the television. Back then I had a burning ambition to play for my country. To be appointed captain is beyond my wildest dreams.”
Despite his only previous international experience coming at Under-17 and Under-19 level, Calum Chambers, who has impressed since a £16million move from Southampton to Arsenal in the summer, has been included in the 22-man squad. Newcastle United’s Jack Colback, who has just a single cap at Under-20 level, also has the chance to debut, as do former Under-21 stars Fabian Delph (Aston Villa) and Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur). Everton’s 20-year-old John Stones will have the chance to add to his two caps, and Spurs winger Andros Townsend, who missed the World Cup through injury, is also included.
Hodgson’s options have been restricted by a number of injuries, with Ross Barkley (knee), Michael Carrick (ankle), Andy Carroll (ankle), Jon Flanagan (knee), Kieran Gibbs (hamstring), Glen Johnson (thigh), Adam Lallana (knee), Jay Rodriguez (knee), Luke Shaw (hamstring), Chris Smalling (groin), Theo Walcott (knee) and Kyle Walker (pelvis) all absent.
Goalkeepers: Forster (Southampton), Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Hart (Manchester City)
Defenders: Baines (Everton), Cahill (Chelsea), Chambers (Arsenal), Jagielka (Everton), Jones (Manchester United), Rose (Tottenham), Stones (Everton)
Midfielders: Colback (Newcastle), Delph (Aston Villa), Henderson (Liverpool), Milner (Manchester City), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Sterling (Liverpool), Townsend (Tottenham), Wilshere (Arsenal)
Forwards: Lambert (Liverpool), Rooney (Manchester United), Sturridge (Liverpool), Welbeck (Manchester United)
England fans, Rooney is clearly the right choice for captain…right? But what do you make of the squad? Let us know your thoughts by joining in the discussion below!