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Southgate: Lack of games cost Rooney England place

Wayne Rooney has been omitted from the England squad Credit: PA

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.

– Gareth Southgate