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Southgate keeps door open for Rooney

Britain Football Soccer - England v Scotland - 2018 World Cup Qualifying European Zone - Group F - Wembley Stadium, London, England - 11/11/16 England's Wayne Rooney applauds fans after the game REUTERS/Eddie Keogh. File Picture
Britain Football Soccer - England v Scotland - 2018 World Cup Qualifying European Zone - Group F - Wembley Stadium, London, England - 11/11/16 England's Wayne Rooney applauds fans after the game REUTERS/Eddie Keogh. File Picture

(Reuters) - England manager Gareth Southgate has kept the door open on Wayne Rooney again playing international football one day after the striker announced his retirement from the national team.

Southgate was asked by journalists on Thursday whether he might consider asking Rooney back if injuries disrupted his squad ahead of next year's World Cup un Russia.

"Yes. (But) I guess you will have to ask him," Southgate told a press conference called to announce his 28-man squad for the away game at Malta on Sept. 1 and the home fixture against Slovakia at Wembley three days later.

Southgate said he had a long conversation with Rooney, who announced his retirement on Wednesday, about his decision and had been considering including him in the squad.

"His form has been excellent and I was definitely thinking about including him in the squad. We talked for about half-an-hour. As a manager in these situations you want to prod to see if a player has understood all the ramifications (of retiring).

"He had. He feels a sense of loyalty to Everton, his new club."

Rooney is England's record scorer and most capped outfield player with 53 goals in 119 games.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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