Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Wayne Rooney will not start England's friendly encounter with Spain at Wembley tomorrow night (15 November). Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson will again don the armband instead after his Manchester United counterpart, in addition to Southampton left-back Ryan Bertrand, was prevented from training due to unspecified injury problems.
"Both [are] being assessed [for] minor issues this morning, so we'll have a look at them as the day goes on," he told reporters at his pre-match press conference. "I don't know as yet [if they will be fit to play], I think we'll have to assess that a bit later. They obviously weren't ready to train today so they must be a doubt. But until we've had a look later we won't know for sure."
The oft-maligned Rooney returned to England's starting XI for the comprehensive World Cup qualifying victory over auld enemy Scotland on Friday having initially been dropped for the goalless draw in Slovenia last month amid an awful run of form. However, Southgate further revealed that he would not have played from the off against Spain even if he was fully fit.
"I wouldn't start Wayne in this game anyway," he added, according to BBC Sport. "Jordan Henderson will be captain."
Jamie Vardy is expected to lead the attack on Tuesday with Harry Kane having been released back to Tottenham Hotspur. That clash against a depleted Spain side – who will be missing at least five key starters in Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Jordi Alba and Diego Costa – represents the final match of the caretaker boss's initial four-game interim stint in charge. And while most believe that Southgate is now almost certain to be appointed as Sam Allardyce's full-time successor, he has yet to state outright that he actually covets the permanent position.
"I don't think now is the time for those discussions, he added. "I am not a coach for whom what happens to me is the most important thing."
Despite that, Southgate claimed after the satisfying defeat of Scotland that he had "loved" the responsibility and the challenges he has faced since being temporarily promoted from his usual job as U21 coach in September. He has also urged The Football Association (FA) to reach a decision regarding the next England manager by mid-November, with his U21s set to begin their preparations for next summer's European Championships and the senior side looking ahead towards their March 2017 double-header against Germany and Lithuania.