England captain Wayne Rooney admitted he's going through "a difficult period" on Monday after learning he would be dropped to the bench for Tuesday's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.
Caretaker manager Gareth Southgate made the decision to drop his armband wearer after a lull in form this season, although Rooney added he's ready to make any impact he can, per BBC Sport:
My game now? Of course, I'm not denying it is in a difficult period. I've been on the bench the last few games for Manchester United but that's part of football.
I have to work hard and when I'm needed for both club and country, I'll make sure I'm ready. ... 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.
Southgate followed the lead of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho in choosing to relegate Rooney to the bench, while Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Eric Dier is poised to take his spot in the engine room.
The Three Lions interim chief appeared in front of the media on Monday and lashed out at those revelling in his player's demotion, via Sky Sports News HQ:
Sky Sports News HQ @SkySportsNewsHQ
WATCH: Southgate is NOT impressed with people taking satisfaction in Rooney being dropped: https://t.co/Qe4vQa74dw https://t.co/9EP0YiT7oB2016-10-10 17:58:55
Rooney will turn 31 years old on Oct. 24, and there is a sense the star, who has featured at the pinnacle of European football for the better part of two decades, has hit his decline sooner than expected.
BT Sport commentator Ian Darke forced home the notion that Rooney should be celebrated for the work he has contributed to England, regardless of where he stands now in relation to the squad:
Ian Darke @IanDarke
Rooney is England's record scorer. He has been playing at the top for 14 years. Mostly in fierce media glare. Deserves total respect.2016-10-10 19:22:07
The veteran's club form was suffering for some time before Mourinho made the decision to drop Rooney for a September meeting against Leicester City, which immediately paid dividends as they ran out as 4-1 victors.
Southgate will be hoping the choice to bench his leader is rewarded similarly in Slovenia on Tuesday, and former England striker Chris Sutton told BBC 5 Live Sport the manager made the right decision:
BBC 5 live Sport @5liveSport
"Southgate has made the right decision" - @Chris_Sutton73 But adds it was "appalling" for fans to boo him v Malta. https://t.co/m4DllwCXOZ2016-10-10 18:21:43
Part of the dilemma in having Rooney as part of the England team is figuring out whether to field him in his old position as a striker or hand him a position in midfield, where his fall in pace isn't as big of a burden.
England's official Twitter account provided a Periscope link to Monday's press conference, where Southgate was eager to reassure fans his England team remain "a tight group":
Rooney: "I've played 13 years non-stop for England. A time comes where you're not the first name on the teamsheet." https://t.co/9GBXEczyHq2016-10-10 17:59:50
The Three Lions were underwhelming en route to a 2-0 victory over Group F opponents Malta on Saturday, and Rooney's omission from the starting XI may be the change needed to ensure they improve.
This could be the beginning of Rooney's eventual easing out of the England national team, but the seasoned star remains committed to the cause, ready to lend a helping hand however his manager sees fit.