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 the Three Lions’ World Cup qualifying win against Scotland on Friday, but a minor knee injury saw him withdraw from the squad to face Spain.
Interim England boss 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 to Press Association Sport on Wednesday evening, 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.”
Sources tell PA Sport that figures within the FA are disappointed by what has emerged 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 whilst on international duty.”
Southgate had not seen the images of Rooney when speaking after Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Spain, but the interim manager said the issue would be reviewed by the FA, even if he was not selected as permanent manager.
“The players over the last few years have been allowed to go home during a period of time,” the former defender said.
“They trained Saturday morning and again on Sunday afternoon and I gave the players a period of time off.
“I am not aware of anything else but obviously I would have to review it.
“There were lots of changes we made to routines. Some things we felt, okay, we should keep the same and I will have to review – or maybe I won’t have to review – somebody will have to review!”
Rooney has been spoken to about the incident and it is understood everyone else involved has or will be.
Matters will be dealt with internally in terms of repercussions, with the players’ code of conduct introduced in 2012 still in place.
It remains to be seen what United make of the incident, with manager Jose Mourinho set to address the media on Friday at a news conference previewing 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 in last month’s qualifier in Slovenia, but returned to the starting lineup as Scotland were beaten 3-0 at Wembley.
United return to action on Saturday lunchtime against Arsenal, before hosting Feyenoord in the Europa League. England are not in action again until March’s glamour friendly in Germany.
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