Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has accepted that this is a 'difficult' period of his career and has admitted that he now nolonger expects to be among the first names on the team-sheet after sitting out the last few games at club level.
Scrutiny of Rooney has been more intense than ever over the last few weeks and he won't beamong the starters when England face Slovenia in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night.
"No, I think it is football," the 30-year-old is quoted as saying by BBC Sport when asked if he was surprised, satalongside caretaker England boss Gareth Southgate ahead of the game.
"I've played 13 years non-stop for England and given everything. A time comes when you're not the first name on the team sheet, which I have been in the past."
Rooney hasn't started a game at club level since United beat Northampton Town in the EFL Cup three weeks ago, appearing only as a substitute in subsequent games against Leicester, Zorya Luhansk and Stoke.
He had been supposed to return to the side against Zorya but a back problem limited his training in the days leading up to the Europa League clash and manager Jose Mourinho felt it wasn't worth the risk given the pressure on the player to perform well.
The former teenage prodigy was given the nod for England against Malta on Saturday but he underwhelmed in the 2-0 win and there were audible jeers from sections of the Wembley crowd - Southgate said the decision to drop Rooney is "in no way" related to his performance.
"Of course, I'm not denying [my game] is in a difficult period. I've been on the bench the last few games for Manchester United but that's part of football," Rooney himselfcontinued.
"I have to work hard and, when I'm needed for both club and country, I'll make sure I'm ready."
He is not, then, planning to retire from international football as former England captain Alan Shearer has recently urged for the sake of saving his club career.
"Of course you want to be on the pitch, that goes without saying, but my role as captain won't change off the pitch and around the hotel with the players,"Rooney further explained.
"That remains the same. I'll be supporting the players, which I've done over the last couple of days, and hoping we can get the win.
"There's no embarrassment. Nothing has changed in terms of my future in the next couple of years - if selected, I'm available to play. I love playing for my country."
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