By SkySports/Evelyne Wareh
Wayne Rooney has received backing from his manager and team-mates after he was booed by some England fans at Wembley on Saturday.
The England captain started the 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Malta in a midfield role alongside Jordan Henderson, despite being left on the bench for Manchester United’s last three matches. Jeers were audible from some supporters at times during the match, but England caretaker manager Gareth Southgate jumped to the defence of England’s leading outfield appearance-maker, arguing he deserves praise for his approach to playing for his country.
“The criticism of him is at times unfair,” he said.
“He ploughs on and plays with pride and captains his country with pride.
“I look back to John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole. In their time with England they took an enormous amount of criticism and yet when you look at the number of caps they got they were the guys that kept turning out.
“They were the ones that really put themselves on the line when some other players would not put themselves forward in those moments and withdrew from squads when the going got tough.
“Those guys are the ones that desperately wanted to play for England again and again and put their neck on the block. I think Wayne falls into that category.
“The booing? I don’t understand it but that seems to be the landscape and I have no idea how that’s expected to help him.”
Rooney’s Manchester United team-mate Jesse Lingard made his England debut in the game and admits he didn’t hear the criticism from the fans. He insists his captain does not deserve to be booed and backed him to bounce back in Tuesday’s visit to Slovenia.
“I can’t really remember that to be honest,” Lingard told Sky Sports.
“It’s a shame and I don’t think he deserves that. He’s done really well tonight and hopefully he’ll get his confidence back now and move on to the next game.
“I think he likes that role a lot. He dictates the play and everything goes through the midfield. I thought Henderson did very well tonight as well. They controlled the game and we got three points.”