England interim boss Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Wayne Rooney will start when they take on Malta in their second World Cup qualifier at Wembley Stadium on Saturday. Apart from the Manchester United forward, Arsenal's Theo Walcott is also in line for his first start since March last year owing to his superb form in the Premier League.
However, the Three Lions are sweating on the fitness of Gary Cahill, who is due for a late fitness test ahead of the game. Phil Jagielka pulled out of the squad with injury, which has left England's central defence position light, with John Stones and Chris Smalling the only fit centre-backs at the moment.
The Chelsea defender is expected to recover and feature for England, but it will be a late call by the manager. Rooney is expected to start in a midfield role after Southgate spoke the United star's ability to control games and add experience to the team.
The interim boss was unwilling to share further inclusions in the starting XI but admitted that he could call up few more players ahead of their game against Slovenia due to a number of players pulling out with injury. Nathaniel Clyne, Harry Kane, Adam Lallana are absent, while Jagielka was the latest to pull out of the squad.
"Wayne will start, but no, I can't [give any more information]. I know everyone is keen to know the team early," Southgate said, as quoted on Sky Sports.
"The players are aware of the team and I'm sure it will leak out - I know that's what happens - but I don't see the point in giving the opposition the advantage of knowing our team. I think Wayne will bring his ability to control games, and his experience.
"I was told I had to bring someone who's starting [to the press conference]. It's a giveaway that Theo is here and, yes, he will start tomorrow, and it's a good moment for him," the interim England manager explained.
"He's in superb form for his club and, as an international manager, it's your idea to have players who are playing well. He's maturing well as a player and he should feel confident because everything I've seen with his club suggests that will continue.
"We are monitoring Gary Cahill. We have lost a few players this week and times I was thinking if this is the landscape all the time. Fortunately, I am used to dealing with that," the former Middlesbrough manager added, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.
"We will have a look after the Malta game to see if we can bring anyone in."