Wayne Rooney to captain England against San Marino

 

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney will captain England for tomorrow night's World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

Regular captain Steven Gerrard is suspended for the match against the European minnows, and with vice-captain Frank Lampard ruled out through injury, manager Roy Hodgson had to make a decision over who would lead out the team.

It appeared to be a choice between Rooney and goalkeeper Joe Hart, and it is the Manchester United striker who has been given the armband.

"It's a great honour, it's something I'm really proud of," Rooney said today.

"It's a big challenge for myself, I'm really looking forward to it and excited, and hopefully we can cap the day off with a good victory."

The experience of Rooney compared to Hart may have influenced the decision, with the United striker achieving 76 caps compared to Hart's 24.

Speaking this week, the Manchester City number one said he thought Rooney should get the armband.

"I've no idea but I'm pretty sure it will fall to Rooney. He is our star man with 10 million caps at the age of 26. I imagine he is a little bit further up the queue than me," he said.

"Of course I would [like to be captain], anyone would but that's life. I didn't go into goal thinking that I wanted to be captain. I just want to play. I'm happy to play and do my best for the team whether you've got the band or you haven't got the band. It is a great thing to play for your country. I really do mean that."

At today's press conference Hodgson talked up the Manchester United striker.

"I've enjoyed working with Wayne, we had a good Euros and I enjoyed working with him there.

"I was disappointed when he got that terrible gash and I was even worried it could rule him out of not only the September games, but also the October games.

"Luckily he's made a very quick recovery and now he's available for the games, and he'll certainly captain the team in the first one."

There is speculation that some senior players could be rested for tomorrow's game, but Hodgson was coy over his team selection.

"I haven't spoken to the players about the team," he said at the televised briefing.

"I guess Wayne Rooney realises he's starting the game because he's sitting alongside me as captain of the team.

"But I haven't told any other players who'll be playing and who won't be. Although I've got a pretty good idea in my own mind what I'm going to do, I can't divulge that on television until I've spoken to the players.

"It might be a question of utilising the squad in a different way because we have a very important game in Poland on Tuesday.

"Knowing that whatever team I choose at Wembley is likely to be able to win that game, how many players do I spare and keep fitter and fresher for the game on Tuesday? That's been the decision to be made."

Rooney has captained the England side just once before, in a 1-0 friendly defeat against Brazil in Doha in 2009.

It is likely that this fixture will end in a more positive result. San Marino are ranked 207th by Fifa, making them the joint worst side in the world. The two previous fixtures between the sides ended 7-1 and 6-0.

Despite San Marino's lowly position, Wembley is a sell-out, meaning Rooney will lead the side out in front of 90,000 people.

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