Gareth Southgate admits England captain Wayne Rooney's lack of playing time at Manchester United has contributed to his omission from a squad featuring several shock inclusions.
Southgate revealed that Rooney could return from a short-term knee lay-off at the weekend, though England's record scorer was absent from the 26-man group the Three Lions boss has named to face Germany and Lithuania the following week.
Jermain Defoe, Jake Livermore and Luke Shaw were all included, as were four uncapped players, and Southgate conceded Rooney's exclusion can in part be attributed to his limited opportunities under Jose Mourinho.
The 31-year-old has started four games in 2017 and only last month he released a statement stating he would be remaining at Old Trafford despite interest from the Chinese Super League.
But Southgate feels the United man hasn't had enough time on the pitch of late to warrant inclusion, while also clarifying the decision to call up veteran striker Defoe.
I've talked with Wayne and I think there's a chance he's fit for the weekend.
But also, the injury, coupled with the fact he's really not had a lot of game time recently, and others have in that area of the pitch, has sort of determined my decision on that one.
It was important not to look at [Defoe's] age and dismiss them from your thinking.
His goalscoring record generally is phenomenal, but in particular this season in a team that perhaps aren't creating as many chances as other teams. His strike-rate is outstanding.
I didn't want to look at his age and think he's finished with England.
Wayne Rooney and Luke Shaw have been left out of Manchester United's 20-man travelling squad for Thursday's Europa League clash with FC Rostov, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan does feature in the group.
Rooney and Shaw both came into United's starting XI for the 1-1 Premier League draw with Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Saturday, with each being substituted in the 70th minute.
Mkhitaryan missed that game and the EFL Cup final win against Southampton the previous weekend due to a hamstring problem, but could now make his comeback in Thursday's last-16 first leg.
Eric Bailly is another man not travelling for the match as he is suspended following his sending off in the second leg of the last-32 triumph over St Etienne.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is also absent from the party heading to Russia, with United saying that is "presumably with the minor injury that the boss (Jose Mourinho) revealed last Friday".
United's travelling squad: De Gea, Romero, O'Hara, Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Smalling, Blind, Darmian, Young, Carrick, Herrera, Fellaini, Pogba, Mata, Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Rashford, Ibrahimovic.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman has opened the door for Wayne Rooney to return to Goodison Park.
Manchester United's record goalscorer has been linked with a move back to his boyhood club, having struggled to hold down a regular place under Jose Mourinho.
Rooney's agent was in China this month, seemingly to sound out interest in his client, but the 31-year-old player last week issued a statement insisting he was staying at Old Trafford.
However, his long-term future remains in doubt, and Koeman is ready to make a move in the summer to bring Rooney back to where it all began.
The Dutchman told Sky Sports:
I believe that Wayne Rooney is still playing at a high level. I think he made a good choice to stay at Manchester United and in the Premier League because he has still two or three years in front of him to play on a high level.
What will happen at the end of the season? I don't know but in my opinion he is one of the players who can make Everton more stronger.
It's all about what the player likes, what Manchester United needs to do, and we are not involved in that project. But every player that we at Everton think can make the team stronger is welcome to Everton.
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Wayne Rooney believes success is just around the corner thanks to Jose Mourinho's growing impact at Manchester United.
The end of Sir Alex Ferguson's reign brought instability and struggles at a club synonymous with the opposite. United only qualified once for the Champions League during David Moyes and Louis van Gaal's indifferent three years at the helm, but things appear to be improving under Mourinho.
"I think that's part of football," United club captain Rooney said of the managerial changes of recent years.
"Obviously Manchester have had the stability of Sir Alex over the 26 years before, and I think over the last three or four years what they've been doing is trying to find the right one. And I believe they've found him.
"Just working every day and seeing how he wants to work, how he is setting the team up. There's successes around the corner."