Southgate backs Rooney after boos

England caretaker manager Gareth Southgate has backed captain Wayne Rooney after he was booed by England fans at Wembley on Saturday.

Rooney, who has been benched by Manchester United following recent indifferent form for his club, started in midfield for England in the 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Malta.

England’s all time record goalscorer was booed by some sections of the crowd during the game, but Southgate leapt to his defence, saying he couldn’t understand how booing a player was meant to help them.

"The booing? I don't understand it but that seems to be the landscape and I have no idea how that's expected to help him," said Southgate in the post-match press conference.

He then went on to praise the England skipper’s attitude.

"The criticism of him is at times unfair," he added.

"He ploughs on and plays with pride and captains his country with pride.

"I look back to John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole. In their time with England they took an enormous amount of criticism and yet when you look at the number of caps they got they were the guys that kept turning out.

"They were the ones that really put themselves on the line when some other players would not put themselves forward in those moments and withdrew from squads when the going got tough.

"Those guys are the ones that desperately wanted to play for England again and again and put their neck on the block. I think Wayne falls into that category.”