Rooney claims Southgate has ‘killed’ two England stars after player is told he ‘won’t play again’ at Euro 2024

Joe Williams
England boss Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate has had plenty of criticism at Euro 2024.

Wayne Rooney insists that England boss Gareth Southgate has “killed” Trent Alexander-Arnold and Conor Gallagher by “discarding them” at Euro 2024.

The Three Lions boss has spent the group stage trying to work out whether Alexander-Arnold, Gallagher or Kobbie Mainoo will be the best option next to Declan Rice in midfield.

England qualified as Group C winners despite disappointing performances in their matches against Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia and Southgate is still struggling to work out his best side.

But Rooney now thinks Southgate has to stick with Manchester United midfielder Mainoo against Slovakia in the last 16, while the England boss must also think about starting Anthony Gordon and Cole Palmer.

“Against Slovenia, Kobbie Mainoo staked a big claim for a starting place, Cole Palmer was very good and Anthony Gordon, though he played only a few minutes, had a couple of excellent touches,” Rooney told The Times.

“At just the right time in the tournament, Gareth may have stumbled upon the right team. I would play at least two of those three youngsters against Slovakia – and, in fact, I said before the tournament that my starting XI for the knockout stage would have Mainoo and Gordon in it.

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“None of what happened in the group stage surprised me. I would never have played Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield and expected that, when the experiment didn’t work, Gareth would try Conor Gallagher.

“Gareth killed both a bit by discarding them, but in each case it was the right call and when Mainoo came in you saw him making forward runs and showing composure on the ball.

“Palmer? He is just suited to international football. He can take the ball, he’s calm on it and has the personality you need on that stage. Gordon is more direct than the other two and ensures there is a good blend.

“With those three on the pitch you saw runners going beyond Harry which, good as Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Foden are, we had not seen from them.”

Southgate took Gallagher off at half-time in the 0-0 draw against Slovenia in their last group match and former Germany international Didi Hamann said earlier this week that he doubts the Chelsea midfielder will play again at Euro 2024.

Hamann told RTE: “Gallagher isn’t or wasn’t a problem. He’s not the problem of that England team.

“It’s probably too late now. If you go after the lesser players, it doesn’t look good on the manager, and that’s what he’s done in the tournament.

“He’s taken Alexander-Arnold, he’s an easy target. Gallagher comes off at half-time. We probably don’t see Gallagher again for the rest of the tournament.”