FOOTBALL: Rooney, Walcott set to start

England players

Manchester United / England Captain Wayne Rooney and winger Theo Walcott will both start England’s World Cup qualifier at home to Malta on Saturday, interim manager Gareth Southgate confirmed on Friday.

Rooney, 30, has been a substitute in Manchester United’s last three games and recently admitted that his poor form meant he deserved to be dropped.

Southgate, who succeeded Sam Allardyce at the England helm, intends nonetheless to select Rooney from the start against Malta, but would not confirm whether he will play in midfield or in attack.

Asked what Rooney would bring to his starting XI, Southgate said, “His ability to control a game, his experience.

“I think this is a game where we know we’re going to have a lot of the ball. Malta only have 35 to 40 per cent of the ball in most of their games, so I expect us to control the game.

“We’ll need to show patience and stick to our principles of playing. Maybe we can get an early goal, but maybe we don’t, and then it’s even more important we stick to our style.

“I want us to be brave with the ball. I want to see an England team that are brave in possession of the ball and prepared to take chances.”

Saturday’s match will be England’s first on home soil since their humiliating elimination by Iceland at Euro 2016, but a full house is expected at Wembley.

Walcott was not selected by Roy Hodgson for the European championships, but has returned to the England fold thanks to fine early-season form for Arsenal that has seen him score four goals in his last four games.

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