Gareth Southgate has named his squad to play England’s 1000th international match. Whilst there were no shock call ups, there were recalls, high profile cuts and an enlarged squad. So here are the major talking points.
Having picked 25 man parties in September and October, Southgate has gone with a 27 man squad for the upcoming qualifiers. Southgate has picked a larger squad due to injury doubts over Jadon Sancho and Ross Barkley. Another slant on this could be if England seal their qualification against Montenegro at Wembley, Southgate might release several regulars ahead of the Kosovo tie. It’s happened before with England squads in dead rubbers, with a lengthy club season ahead don’t be surprised if a positive result at Wembley sees the likes of Kane and Sterling rested for the trip to Pristina.
Stones in for Keane
John Stones returns to the fold having recovered from injury. The Manchester City defender is hardly a surprise recall, particularly in light of England’s poor defensive performance last month in Prague. Making way is Michael Keane who is dropped after dreadful performances against the Czech Republic and Kosovo. Tyrone Mings is retained after a solid debut under difficult circumstances in Bulgaria as is Joe Gomez who remains a Southgate favourite but is struggling to get in Liverpool’s team.
Ox is Back
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is unsurprisingly recalled after his return to form with some spectacular goals for Liverpool. Injury doubt Barkley is the only midfielder amongst the goals for England right now, so Ox’s value is obvious. Even if Barkley recovers it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Liverpool man start against Montenegro.
No recall for Alli, Walker and Lingard
There was no recall for England’s trio of World Cup semi finalists out in the cold. Kyle Walker has now missed out on three successive squads and whilst Southgate insisted the door was still open to Walker, it’s clear Trent Alexander-Arnold and the revitalised Kieran Trippier are now the men in possession at right-back.
Despite a couple of big goals for Tottenham, Dele Alli remains in the cold. Alli is still struggling to find his best form and now has until March to play himself back into the squad. Jesse Lingard is as expected left out again after finding himself on the fringes at Manchester United. Given the major roles all three played at the World Cup and in the Nations League, there absence does demonstrate Southgate isn’t picking solely on history.
Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi is back after recovering from a serious achilles injury. Hudson-Odoi was relegated to the Under 21s in October but his return to the Chelsea first team has seen him given a chance to add to his two senior caps and underlines his status above Lingard in the winger pecking order.
Grealish Leads the Unlucky
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish misses out despite a fine run of form. With James Maddison and Mason Mount still at the start of their international careers Southgate doesn’t seem to want another option at number 10. Meanwhile the England manager was keen to point out Grealish may fit into the side out wide but is currently behind the likes of Sancho, Sterling and Hudson-Odoi. Other uncapped players who may feel hard done by include Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Bournemouth’s Aaron Ramsdale.
Goalkeepers: Tom Heaton (Aston Villa), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Danny Rose (Tottenham), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool), Declan Rice (West Ham), Harry Winks (Tottenham)
Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
Image Credits: Getty