The former captain was left out in March for games against Germany and Lithuania and has again been omitted for the game against Scotland on June 10 and a friendly with France three days later, after seeing his role at Manchester United diminish since Jose Mourinho’s arrival.
But Southgate suggested there is a way back for Rooney, 31, provided he features more regularly for his club – with an Old Trafford exit appearing likely this summer.
“It doesn’t have to be,” Southgate said, when asked if Rooney’s international career was at an end.
“From Wayne’s point of view he hasn’t played very much this season.
“Wayne’s got some decisions to make this summer, but the hope is that he’s back. A player of his quality there is no way we would dismiss him.
“You want your players playing in the biggest possible games.
“I’ve no idea what the future is for Wayne at Manchester United so it’s impossible for me to comment if he’s part of the plans or not.
“I’ve spoken to him in the past but not this time – I think there’s only so many times you can speak about the situation.
“I’m conscious from his point of view that it’s always a big story when you don’t select him.”
Southgate was dealt a blow when Nathaniel Clyne was ruled out of England’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland with a back injury.
The Liverpool right-back will miss the games against Scotland and France after withdrawing form the squad.
However, Southgate has adequate cover in that area with Tottenham pair Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier both included in the initial squad for the trips to Hampden Park and the Stade de France.