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England only exists to produce unanswerable questions. Here are 5 of them.

Since England isn't worth discussing as a football team in and of itself, let's talk about what we'll spend the next two years talking about.

England Press Conference Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

If the England team exists for a reason, as opposed to just out of persistent habit, then it's not for anything so obvious as the winning of trophies, or anything so complicated as the promulgation of national identity and pride, or anything so vulgar as fun. No, it's for questions. Endless questions, generating endless conversations and arguments, and in the process stitching the nation together through a shared sense of befuddled vexation. And there have been some truly great questions over recent years: The Gerrard-Lampard Conundrum, the Paul Scholes Positional Paradox, the David Beckham Quarterback Reinvention, the Michael Owen Charisma Void and the persistent, irresoluble Investigations Into the Proper Dispensation of the Armband.

But nobody's managed to generate quite so many furrowed brows and flickering light bulbs as Wayne Rooney. Ever since his spectacular emergence into the national consciousness, he's dominated the national conversation. At first the question was should we pick him? Then it quickly moved on to who should we play him with? Then took a brief detour through why did he stamp on that man's testicles and how can we blame Ronaldo? And more recently evolved into where should we play him? and then, finally, destroying all other questions, should we play him at all? Time being the onward marching bastard that it is, the answer to that last question is always, eventually, no, and so it came to pass.

Which means we're going to need some new questions. If England are to survive the demotion of their captain, they will need to generate new talking points, new topics of discussion, new bones of contention for the country to gnaw upon. Here are a few that we think might well come to dominate over the next few years. Embrace them, for there will be no escape.

Should England bring Wayne Rooney back?

Well, obviously they're going to. But to be honest, the Slovenia game did very little to suggest that Gareth Southgate had made the wrong call. This is not because England played well; they didn't. They were sloppy and unimaginative in possession, and only Joe Hart's smartness combined with Slovenia's wastefulness kept them from true embarrassment.

It's because it was hard to envisage Rooney coming on and fixing anything. England without him were a bit like England with, just a little quicker across the ground, a little more frantic in their dispiriting incompetence. The inescapable conclusion is that while Rooney will presumably pick up a few more caps and maybe even a couple more goals, and will continue to act as a kind of de facto squad captain until after the 2018 World Cup, the post-Rooney era has begun. The other inescapable conclusion is that despite this, the question will still be asked, over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

Why can't Dele Alli and Harry Kane replicate their club form?

Could be great fun, this one. Kane and Alli go so well together that their surnames even make up an anagram — ALKALINE — and yet, you just know that for some mysterious reason, their combination isn't going to thrive when it comes to international football. There will be plenty of reasonable suggestions put forward as to why this might be — from subtle points about counter-pressing and team shape and the difficulty of translating club systems over to the international game, to snarky ones about Theo Walcott being no Erik Lamela — but ultimately everybody will realise, even if they don't vocalise, that the England shirt is a cursed object that destroys every beautiful thing that it touches.

Who should play in goal?

Hart's exceptional performance against Slovenia has quietened the question for the moment, but at some point in the next few seasons, the England No. 1 shirt will become a hotly contested article of clothing. Jack Butland's due back from injury soon, Fraser Forster isn't getting any shorter, and if Sunderland keep defending they way they've been defending, Jordan Pickford's going to be doing a lot of very exciting work.

Ordinarily, a bit of strength in depth might not be a bad thing. But competition among goalkeepers can often be a destabilising force, and particularly so for England. When England don't know their best goalkeeper, weird things happen. Scott Carson ends up in goal for a must-win qualifier. Robert Green gets dropped one game into a World Cup. It makes sense: After all, this is a country that is still governed, in part, by the unelected House of Lords, that honours its best by inculcating them into the Order of the British Empire, and that is currently considering spending a fortune on a shiny new yacht for the fossilised remnants of the monarchy. It craves hierarchy. It needs rankings. And if the most important position on the pitch hasn't got a clear and distinct pecking order, it all starts to falls apart.

Who should partner John Stones?

Working from the basis that (a) Stones will keep his place in Manchester City's first team for the foreseeable future, (b) that he will continue to improve as he does so, and (c) no England manager's going to drop anybody rated by St Josep Pep Peppy McPeppington of Guardiola, the question at the back is going to be Stones plus who?

The trouble is none of the answers are particularly convincing. Gary Cahill, the current choice, is playing like a man who has just walked heavily into a glass door and knows that everybody saw him, even if they're trying not to giggle. Chris Smalling is the obvious replacement, but his first-team place at Manchester United is far from secure. And beyond him, there's a strange mix of the old (Phil Jagielka), the untested (Michael Keane) and the probably best as a midfielder (Eric Dier). What a peculiar state of affairs: England, no matter what else is going on, are supposed to be good at central defenders. Weep for the country that was once so flush with options that they never got around to giving Steve Bruce a cap, and ended up messing around with Ledley King in midfield.

Who should wear The Armband?

Rooney's departure from the first-team lineup doesn't just deprive us of our biggest question, it deprives the England team of their obvious England Captain, in the iconic, face of the nation, institutional sense. Whoever wears The Armband will not, until Rooney finally departs after 2018, be the true England Captain, because absolutely nobody else has that weird cocktail of celebrity, authority, and status that Rooney possesses, and which makes him ideally suited for this incredibly important, totally irrelevant job.

After that? We saw Southgate respecting the basic principles of captaincy against Slovenia, which is that in the absence of any obvious candidate the job goes to either the oldest central defender or the busiest central midfielder. That Jordan Henderson then proceeded to play like a cartoon caricature of the very worst aspects of Steven Gerrard only felt right, and if there was any justice in the world, that no-look backpass would have ensured him the job for life. But this is England. Who knows what might come next.