England captain Wayne Rooney has said there was “no embarrassment” in being on the bench while admiting he is in a “difficult period” after he was dropped for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia.
Interim manager Gareth Southgate said the decision was tactical and not a reflection of the forward’s form.
Rooney, who was booed by sections of the Wembley crowd during Saturday’s 2-0 win over Malta, has not started Manchester United’s past three matches.
Rooney will retain the captaincy but Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson will be the on-field skipper on Tuesday.
The United player is England’s record scorer with 53 goals in 117 appearances, but has netted one goal in 12 games for club and country this season.
“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,” said Rooney, who is England’s most-capped outfield player.
“I have to work hard and when I’m needed for both club and country, I’ll make sure I’m ready.”
Tottenham’s Eric Dier will replace Rooney in midfield against Slovenia.
Southgate added: “We have looked at the way Slovenia play and I knew in my mind the profile of the midfield I wanted to play in this game. In no way is it a reflection of Wayne’s performance on Saturday.
“He had a lot of the ball and played with great tactical discipline. It’s not an easy decision to take because of the respect I have for him as the captain of this team.”
Rooney said being dropped by England had not changed his plans to retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Asked if he was surprised to be left out, he added: “No, I think it is football.
“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.”
Speaking about Henderson taking the captain’s armband, Rooney praised the 26-year-old.
“I think Jordan is a fantastic leader,” added Rooney. “He has taken a difficult job from [former captain] Steven Gerrard at Liverpool and grown into the position. He has great leadership qualities and he deserves his chance. It will be an incredibly proud moment for him and his family.