Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli has been tipped to make the number 10 position in the England senior team his own and thus marginalise captain Wayne Rooney, according to Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson. Alli was preferred behind lead striker Daniel Sturridge for the World Cup qualifying win over Malta, forcing the Manchester United skipper to play in a deep-lying midfield role.
Rooney was partnered with Henderson at the base of the midfield but was overshadowed by the Reds captain, who set up both goals as Gareth Southgate marked his first game as the interim Three Lions coach with victory over Malta. Henderson crossed for Sturridge to open the scoring before an exchange of passes with Alli saw the Spurs man double the advantage before half time at Wembley.
BBC Sport understand Rooney will be left on the bench for Southgate's second match in charge against Slovenia, potential triggering the beginning of the end of the United forward's international career. Alli impressed sufficient in the position Rooney used to call his own against Malta, and Henderson was among those convinced he can fill the position in the immediate future.
"We worked on it during the week and the number 10 role is perfect for Dele to go and affect the game in the space," he told The FA's official website. "He likes to get on the ball and play one-twos and I thought he was brilliant in that respect.
"With me and Wayne, we've got to make sure we're getting the ball to him and give the lads a bit of protection when we're attacking. That can be better, and it's something we can work on that when we're going forward, that we're protecting the centre-halves. But we've got to be happy with the three points."
United boss Jose Mourinho insists he is unwilling to consistently play Rooney in a deep position, and dropped him for the Premier League games against Leicester City and Stoke City before the international break. Though Southgate is only in temporary charge of the England team until a permanent successor is found, he is set to make one of the biggest decisions in the modern era of the national team by omitted the country's record scorer.
"I've got to make decisions which are right for the team and, whenever you select a team for England, you're going to leave out some players," Southgate said when asked if he would be prepared to drop Rooney, who has not start any of United's last three games, according to The Guardian. "You look at the bench [against Malta] and there are guys who are playing every week in the Premier League, so you have to be prepared to do that (make tough decisions). That's part and parcel of the job."