Wayne Rooney will continue as England captain under Gareth Southgate despite Manchester United struggles

The 30-year-old will retain the armband despite being dropped by Jose Mourinho at club level

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The Independent Football

Gareth Southgate has delivered his first key decision as England manager by telling Wayne Rooney he will continue as captain, despite losing his first-team position at Manchester United.

Rooney, dropped by United manager Jose Mourinho for the 4-1 Premier League victory against Leicester City last Saturday, was once again named on the substitutes’ bench for the Europa League clash with Zorya Luhansk at Old Trafford on Thursday night.

But Southgate, named manager for the next four internationals following Sam Allardyce’s departure earlier this week, has given Rooney his vote of confidence by calling the 30-year-old to confirm that he will retain the armband under his management.

Rooney is understood to have spoken to Southgate within 24 hours of the England U-21 manager being elevated to the senior role earlier this week.

And despite Rooney’s personal form battle in recent weeks – the United captain has not scored for club and country since netting in the Premier League victory against Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the season – Southgate has chosen to keep him as England captain due to the respect he commands in the dressing-room amongst team-mates and coaching staff.

Rooney has announced that he will retire form international football following the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but Southgate believes he remains a key figure and worthy of the captaincy, regardless of his form in recent weeks.

Southgate is set to name his squad on Sunday evening for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia.

And Rooney’s United team-mate Marcus Rashford will return to the full squad having been demoted to the Under-21s by Allardyce last month.

Rashford scored a hat-trick against Norway at Colchester in his Under-21 outing and has since scored three goas for United against Watford, Northampton and Leicester.

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