England caretaker manager Gareth Southgate says he is ready to drop captain Wayne Rooney from the starting XI if he continues to struggle for form.

Rooney, 30, has lost his place in the Manchester United team after a run of poor form but played as a deep-lying midfielder in England's 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Malta on 8 October.

The game was marred by a section of the crowd at Wembley booing Rooney, who is England's all-time leading goal-scorer and outfield appearance-maker.

Southgate said he was unafraid of making tough decisions but suggested that the Manchester United captain is unlikely to be dropped from the team for the World Cup qualifier against Slovenia in Ljubljana on 11 October.

"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," the England interim manager was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney, 30, has scored one goal in seven league appearances for Manchester United this season Reuters

"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."

Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate is expected to retain Rooney in England's starting XI against Slovenia Getty Images

Southgate added: "I think [Rooney] commands that respect. When he makes his observations and he speaks up, it's clear that he talks with authority but also insight.

"His knowledge is of a very high level, not just of the game but the dynamics of the group and the things they can learn and improve upon. It's impossible to feel that really unless you are inside it."
But Southgate hinted that Rooney's position in the England team might change if he continues to be on the bench at United.

"The longer a situation goes where you are not playing with your club, it becomes more difficult," he stated.

England have maximum points from their two World Cup qualifiers and lead Group F by two points over Scotland.