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No need to ‘lay down law’ over England players’ conduct

England striker Wayne Rooney (left) and manager Gareth Southgate

Wayne Rooney is set to keep his role as England captain

New England manager Gareth Southgate does not believe he needs to “lay down the law” to his players after recent off-field incidents.

England captain Wayne Rooney apologised over “inappropriate” pictures of him at a wedding at the team hotel a day after the win over Scotland on 11 November.

There were also claims several players were out until late the same night.

Southgate said he was “not disappointed” but it was “how you learn from those moments that is important”.

He told his first news conference since his permanent appointment on Wednesday: “Being an England player comes with additional responsibility but I don’t think laying down the law is necessary with this group of players.

“There have to be guidelines but players have to take leadership in that.”

Southgate has signed a four-year deal as England manager after stepping up from managing the Under-21s, initially on an interim basis.

He took over when Sam Allardyce’s reign came to an abrupt end in September over newspaper allegations of inappropriate conduct, and oversaw two wins and two draws in four games in charge.

The FA banned England players from having nights out while on international duty following events on the last international break when England beat Scotland in a World Cup qualifier before a 2-2 draw with Spain in a friendly four days later.

“You have to have an environment where you give people responsibility and you sometimes step back and learn a lot from those moments,” added Southgate.

“Everything has to be geared towards being successful. If we think we’re good enough to play the best teams in the world and give ourselves a slight handicap along the way then good luck with that.

“We have to make sure every opportunity to recover and perform at our very best is taken.”

Southgate’s first competitive match in charge as permanent manager will be a friendly against Germany in Dortmund on 22 March.

Is Rooney still the England captain?

Rooney, 31, was captain for Southgate’s first game in interim charge as England beat Malta, but was dropped to face Slovenia before returning to the starting line-up to face Scotland and missing the Spain friendly with an injury.

Jordan Henderson replaced Rooney for the two games he missed and Southgate is keen to “develop more leaders in that group”.

“It’s obviously not a case that Wayne expects to play every game,” said Southgate.

“When I played for England, particularly in 1996 when we had such a successful team, there were captains of their clubs throughout the team.

“If we are going to be successful over the next few years developing leadership and resilience is one of the key areas.”

More to follow.

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