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  1. ITV Report

Gareth Southgate defends giving Wayne Rooney final England appearance

Gareth Southgate has defended giving the England's record goalscorer Wayne Rooney a farewell appearance in celebration of his contribution to the national team.

Rooney will feature for a 120th cap in next Thursday's friendly against the United States at Wembley Stadium, despite retiring from international duty in August 2017.

“Those discussions started 12 months ago. We have an opportunity with the game at Wembley to pay tribute,” Southgate said.

“We have brought former players back to speak and present shirts. I think all the players respect Wayne's contribution and that he deserves the best possible send-off.”

The 33-year-old is a former England captain. Credit: AP

Southgate was inspired to give the striker a tribute after seeing how Germany honored Lukas Podolski in a 2017 game against England.

“We were all struck by the fact that it was a good way to recognise someone who's had a fantastic career for his country,” Southgate said.

“We've not been brilliant at that over the years.”

Gareth Southgate was inspired by Germany's treatment of Lukas Podolski in 2017. Credit: AP

Rooney was one of 28 players selected by Southgate but the former captain will not play on November 18 against Croatia in England's final UEFA Nations League game.

“I am still able to look to the future with the squad we've picked,” Southgate said.

Relegation to UEFA National League B or progression into the finals of the inaugural competition both remain possibilities for England.