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Gareth Southgate has announced his England squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers in the middle of June and he has picked a strong squad. There were calls for Southgate to rest some of his big names after a gruelling season but the likes of Harry Kane, Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford are all part of his 25-man squad.
The standout omission from Southgate’s squad is Raheem Sterling. The Chelsea forward has played a crucial role for England since Southgate has been manager but the 52-year-old has opted to leave him out following a testing campaign in the capital.
Sterling has already spoken about his disappointment with how this season has gone and he will be keen to get back in Southgate’s plans next season ahead of the European Championships in Germany. Keen to squash suggestions that he has been dropped, Southgate instead cited a physical issue with Sterling. He said:
“I spoke with him a week or so ago, a general catch-up. He’s not happy physically with his condition. He’s been carrying a hamstring problem. He doesn’t think he’s operating at the level he needs.”
Full England squad for upcoming games vs Malta and North Macedonia ⚪️🏴 pic.twitter.com/3NTeYlmtU7
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 24, 2023
Callups for Eze, Dunk and Alexander-Arnold
Three players who will be itching to join up with the squad this time around are Eberechi Eze, Lewis Dunk and Trent Alexander-Arnold. For Eze, it is his first international call up and one that is well-deserved after some excellent performances for Crystal Palace throughout the season.
He has been playing as a number eight for Palace in recent weeks and has thrived in the central position – an area where England are perhaps weakest. Talking about his decision to call Eze up, Southgate said:
“We’ve liked him for a long time. He was very unfortunate just before the Euros, we were going to call him in and he got an injury on the day. He has finished the season really strongly. He can play in a couple of positions across the attacking line.”
Meanwhile, Lewis Dunk and Trent Alexander-Arnold are two players who have perhaps been treated harshly by Southgate in recent times. Dunk in particular has been performing at a high level for a while now, while Alexander-Arnold has excelled in a new role for Liverpool over the past couple of months after being told by pundits that he couldn’t play as an orthodox right-back anymore.
Southgate confirmed that he had spoken with the Liverpool defender about that new role in recent weeks, suggesting that he may be thinking about doing something similar himself. Meanwhile, on Dunk, the England manager that the defender has been “a big part” of Brighton’s excellent season.
Included in a #ThreeLions squad for the first time since 2018.
Congratulations, Lewis Dunk! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/kePfiDXXBZ
— England (@England) May 24, 2023
No rest for the wicked
For Manchester United and Manchester City players, the opportunity for a rest would have likely been welcomed. United have played more games than anyone in Europe’s top five leagues this season while City’s season won’t end until June 10th.
However, Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Kalvin Phillips, Kyle and Walker are all in the squad so will have to stay active for a few extra weeks at the end of the season.
During this international round of fixtures, England take on North Macedonia and Malta and two wins would go a long way to securing safe passage through to Euro 2024 next summer.
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