Sam Allardyce wasted no time making his first decisive act as England manager but is ready to hold off on an even bigger call on Wayne Rooney.
Allardyce had only just moved into his new office at St George’s Park on Monday when the Football Association shelved plans to host a home friendly against Croatia on September 1.
Discussions were already well under way on what was supposed to act as a Wembley welcome but the 61-year-old has decided he would rather spend a full week training with his new squad ahead of his first World Cup qualifier in Slovakia three days later.
It is something of a gamble to kick off his reign with a competitive fixture in Trnava, arguably England’s toughest Group F match, but Allardyce knows his own mind and made his case successfully.
The former Sunderland boss was not as eager to deliver a verdict on Rooney’s role, instead preferring to see how things unfold at the start of the Premier League season before deciding on whether the 30-year-old will remain as captain.
Indeed, with Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho vowing to end the experiment of using Rooney in midfield, there is now uncertainty over whether the country’s record goalscorer will even be a first-choice player.
“I don’t want to put myself out in the open yet. It’s a decision I’ll make when I’ve got my feet under the table,” he said of Rooney’s future role.
“It’s far too early to make any predictions. I still think Wayne Rooney has a massive place to play in the England side.
“I think Jose will determine (where), because if Jose says he is not going to play him in centre midfield and he is playing up front and scoring goals for Manchester United then it would be pointless me bringing him into England and playing him in centre midfield.”
Asked if Rooney could be a first choice for England if he is forced to play second fiddle to the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial at Old Trafford, Allardyce added: “I don’t know until that happens with anybody, let alone Wayne Rooney.
“Like everything else, you wait until the season starts. I hope there are standout players all over the place when the Premier League starts.
“I hope its a hugely difficult task for me to pick my first squad because everybody is on really good form and playing exceptionally well. I do think form at a football club has a place when you are making your selection.”
FA chief executive Martin Glenn was delighted to see Allardyce get to work having headed the three-man selection panel.
“I think the England fanbase will want reinspiring, and I can’t think of a better person to reinspire an England fanbase than Sam Allardyce,” he said.
“Interestingly in the interview Sam quoted the All Blacks – ‘leave the shirt in a better place than you found it’.
“I think he just sees it as a big opportunity. It (the England team) not quite the basket case, not at all the basket case, that was suggested.”