England captain Wayne Rooney has “unreservedly” apologised to interim manager Gareth Southgate and Football Association technical director Dan Ashworth, admitting images taken of him over the weekend were “inappropriate for someone in his position”.
The 31-year-old started England’s World Cup qualifying win against Scotland on Friday, but a minor knee injury saw him withdraw from the squad to face Spain on Tuesday night.
Southgate was forced to deny after Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Spain that Rooney’s absence was anything to do with images that emerged from The Grove hotel on Saturday night.
The Sun alleged that Rooney dropped in on a wedding party, with the paper printing a photo appearing to show the Manchester United forward, sporting an England training top, looking the worse for wear.
In a statement issued on Rooney’s behalf last night, the player’s spokesperson said: “Naturally Wayne is sorry that pictures taken with fans have been published today. Although it was a day off for the whole squad and staff, he fully recognises that the images are inappropriate for someone in his position.
“Earlier today Wayne spoke privately to both Gareth Southgate and Dan Ashworth to unreservedly apologise. He would like to further extend that apology to any young fans who have seen these pictures.”
Figures within the FA are understood to be disappointed and overnight free time – in place for a number of years – will now be reviewed. An FA spokesperson said: “All England personnel have a responsibility to behave appropriately at all times. We will be reviewing our policy around free time on international duty.”
It remains to be seen what United make of the incident, with manager Jose Mourinho set to address the media tomorrow at a press conference ahead of the Premier League clash with Arsenal.
Rooney has endured a tough campaign, finding himself in the unusual situation of fighting for his place in the team. The 31-year-old ended his 81-day goal drought in the recent Europa League clash at Fenerbahce and impressed as United headed into the international break with a 3-1 win at Swansea.
Rooney dropped to the bench for last month’s qualifier in Slovenia, but returned to the starting line-up against Scotland.