LONDON — England manager Gareth Southgate won't write off former captain Wayne Rooney.
Southgate just won't pick Rooney again until he proves himself.
Southgate left out Rooney for a second consecutive batch of matches on Thursday (Friday, Manila time). The first time in March was explained as a lack of playing time by Rooney for Manchester United, but this time Southgate was blunt about omitting him for matches against Scotland and France next month.
"I can't dress it up any other way. Other players are in really good form and deserve to keep their place," Southgate said.
"We have a lot of players playing exceptionally well in the area of the pitch that Wayne plays."
Rooney, the record scorer for England and Manchester United, has played more regularly for United recently, but that was prompted mainly by others' injuries and fixture congestion. A more typical reaction to Rooney's declining form was his cameo in the Europa League final win over Ajax in Stockholm on Wednesday. Southgate wasn't persuaded.
England's record goal-scorer with 53 and its most capped outfield player with 119 hoped to end his England career at the World Cup in Russia next year.
But in the pecking order of strikers and center forwards he has fallen behind Marcus Rashford, Jermain Defoe, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, as well as the injured Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck.
"I've showed that, by selecting Jermain Defoe at 34, if players are playing well and the moment's right then we will involve them in the squad," Southgate said.
"You never write off a player of Wayne's quality, and I'm sure that next season he'll be back to playing. He's finished the season a bit better and I'm sure he'll take that into next year."
Rooney's comeback hopes rest on his future club plans, and starting afresh. He said on Thursday he's "more or less" decided whether to stay or leave United but wasn't willing to reveal it.
He said he's had lots of options, including overseas, and won't play for another team in the Premier League apart from boyhood club Everton. United want him to stay, and he said he understands, with some frustration, his diminished role in the team.
The 19-year-old Rashford, who started for United in the Europa League final, will not now go to the European Under-21 Championship, while Kane, the Premier League's top scorer, is fit and available to Southgate for the first time after missing the manager's first six games.
The 25-man England squad was picked for a World Cup qualifier away at Scotland on June 10, followed by a friendly against France in Paris three days later.
Other features included a recall for Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, 14 months after he broke his right ankle in a friendly against Germany, and a first call-up for Tottenham defender Kieran Trippier.
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Torino), Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Aaron Cresswell (West Ham), Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Jake Livermore (West Brom), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Sunderland), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jamie Vardy (Leicester)