"I think there would be numerous examples of people that have earned caps in different circumstances".
Naming a 28-strong squad, Southgate also handed a first call-up to Bournemouth's in-form striker Callum Wilson, a recall to Everton defender Michael Keane, and retained Dortmund's Jadon Sancho.
"He was a great captain for us".
"There's still a long way to go", said the 25-year-old.
"We're a odd country in that we bemoan the fact that we haven't achieved as much as we'd like, and then we have a player who should be held in the highest regard and we're spending a lot of time justifying giving him that tribute".More news: Kentucky man tried to ride horse onto Churchill Downs track
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Southgate said he last spoke to Rooney in April, when the DC United striker visited St George's Park as an honorary ambassador for the UEFA Under-17 European Championship, but the two men did not discuss the tribute.
Goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who with 125 caps is the only player to have represented England more times than Rooney, and ex-captain Alan Shearer both agreed that Rooney's achievements deserve honouring - but that should not extend to him playing in the match. We're talking about the record England cap-holder for an outfield player, the national side's record goal scorer and someone who has been a fantastic servant for club and country throughout his career. "With this opportunity, it is possible and I am sure the crowd will give him the opportunity he deserves".
"We are a unusual country in that we bemoan the fact we haven't achieved as much as we'd like and then we have a player who should be held in the highest regard and we are spending a lot of time justifying giving him that tribute".
"I understand it's caused a lot of debate and conjecture, but it's a way of appreciating what he's given". I don't think Wayne has been involved in all those discussions and I don't need to be involved in all those discussions, frankly.
Or there are young players we want to see from the start - that has to be the start point. "To actually give him a game in what is a proper England worldwide is completely wrong, in my opinion". "We have to balance with the under-21s as they have got a competition next summer and the more we move them up the less enthusiastic they are about moving back down, at times, so the players we have moved up we wanted to look at".