Wayne Rooney hopes his proposed return to Everton can revive his chances of playing for England in the 2018 World Cup.
England’s record goalscorer has lost his place in first the team and then the squad during Gareth Southgate’s reign, but with the manager warning Rooney his lack of first-team football at Manchester United had cost him.
But the forward is closing in on a transfer back to his first club in a deal that could offer him the pivotal role to enable him to realise an ambition.
Rooney stated in August 2016 that he would retire from international football after the World Cup and remains eager to bow out in Russia next summer.
While Southgate omitted him from the 25-man squad he named for the June internationals against Scotland and France, prompting suggestions his international career is over, it could be revived by a transfer to Everton.
There was also interest in Rooney from the Chinese Super League but, apart from David Beckham’s time at LA Galaxy, England managers have been reluctant to select players not operating in the major European leagues.
A decision to remain in England is an indication of his determination to regain his international place as well as an opportunity to play against higher-calibre opponents.
Rooney started six of United’s final seven league games last season as Jose Mourinho named weakened teams to focus on the Europa League, but had only begun four of the previous 26.
And Southgate suggested in May that another season as a bit-part player at Old Trafford would have harmed Rooney’s chances of returning to the England fold.
“Wayne has got some decisions to make across the summer regarding next season,” he said then. “The hope is that he is back playing really well and a player of his quality, there is no way that we would dismiss him from the future. You want your players playing in the biggest possible games. We hope he is back playing regularly, playing well and he is a fantastic player to have in your squad.”
Having skippered England under Roy Hodgson and been reappointed captain by Sam Allardyce, Rooney was benched by Southgate for his second game in charge, against Slovenia, and has only started one of their past seven matches.
But whereas Rooney is only 31, Southgate has selected the 34-year-old striker Jermain Defoe and has insisted age will not preclude him from picking players.
Nevertheless, he has preferred Defoe, Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge, Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane for the striking spots and, unlike Hodgson, has shown a reluctance to select Rooney in midfield.
Kane was appointed captain for the Scotland and France games, scoring an equaliser in Glasgow and twice in Paris, in an indication he is the first-choice forward now.
Rooney passed Bobby Charlton’s long-standing record of 49 goals for England and has 53, though only one in his last nine internationals, and is only six caps away from equalling Peter Shilton’s national best of 125.
Charlton is the only England player to be named in four World Cup squads but Rooney, who has only scored once in his first three, has an undistinguished record on the global stage.