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England away to Andorra on October 9 and home to Hungary on October 12
Gareth Southgate has admitted Jadon Sancho does not deserve to be in the England squad on current form but has been included so he can put an arm around his shoulder after a difficult start to his career at Manchester United.
“Does he deserve to be in on these performances over the last few weeks? Well, probably not,” the England manager said with the 21-year-old winger having struggled since his £73million move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.
However Southgate added: “But I think we feel we have invested in Jadon over a period of time, we believe he can get to a high level. I would like some time with him to chat with him and help that process that's going on at Manchester United as well and I think for him to feel that we have belief in him at this point is a good message.”
Southgate said he was not “surprised” Sancho has found the move difficult.
“The Bundesliga is totally different, Dortmund is a big club but Manchester United is one of the biggest in the world,” he claimed. “There's some adaptation to that, there's a definite adaptation to the league, you're not going to get the goals and assists numbers anywhere near in our league, that you are in the Bundesliga.”
Gareth Southgate looks to protect Mason Greenwood and Jude Bellingham after England omission
By Jason Burt
Gareth Southgate has left Mason Greenwood and Jude Bellingham out of the England squad after holding talks with the players and their families about their development.
The England manager said it was in Greenwood and Bellingham’s interests not to be in the 23-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary. There is a recall for former Chelsea central defender Fikayo Tomori, who has impressed since his move to AC Milan, and who replaces the injured Harry Maguire ahead of Arsenal’s new £50 million signing Ben White.
Without Maguire, John Stones becomes even more important for England, although he has yet to play a single minute of Manchester City’s 10 matches this season. “It’s not ideal that he’s not had football,” Southgate said. “We probably have to be a little bit careful of how many minutes we expect of him across these two matches.”
In selecting Tomori, there were also name-checks for fellow defenders Marc Guehi, of Crystal Palace, and Everton’s Ben Godfrey.
However, the main topic of debate was around the players left out by Southgate. He suggested that Bellingham’s omission was because the midfielder needed time off, so would not benefit from being in the England camp, and was too big a player to move down to the under-age groups.
“I think if we give him a rest mentally and physically, better that he is able to do that as an 18-year-old and actually just relax for a little bit, with no sense of needing to impress in training or needing to travel and add to anything at all,” Southgate said.
As regards Greenwood, Southgate conceded that he had probably selected the striker prematurely for the senior squad when he called him up for last year’s Nations League tie away to Iceland. “We didn’t know as much about him at that point and you’re drawn by the quality of the performances and the maturity that you see on the field,” Southgate said. “So, you’d have to say that maybe that was a bit early, because he’s feeling at the moment that to establish himself at Manchester United is a big challenge and I can totally understand that.”
Greenwood and Manchester City’s Phil Foden – who is fit and returns – were sent home in disgrace after inviting women to the team hotel in Reykjavik. Greenwood, who turns 20 on Friday, played 13 minutes against Iceland and although he has been in subsequent squads has not featured. He pulled out of Euro 2020 through injury.
Southgate denied he had cut a deal with the respective clubs of Greenwood and Bellingham, United and Borussia Dortmund, saying he had been speaking directly with the two players and their families.
“They are both similar situations in that they are young players with a heavy load at the moment,” the manager said. “I have spoken to both of the players and both feel … Jude at the moment has a high level of matches, he is playing Champions League games, he is playing league games and as an 18-year-old he had a full season last season and then into a European Championship, so no break. And we have to remember that these lads are still physically growing, so when we talk about young player development, we have to be really careful how we handle them.
“They are very much decisions taken with me having conversations with the players and their families rather than a deal with the club. We want them to be big players for England for the long term. So, we have to try to make the right decisions while they are still growing – there is a maturation part of this physically. There is how much we expose them. These are conversations the boys are having with me and their families as much as the clubs. So, I have also got to listen to that.
“It is, I know, difficult sometimes because these boys are playing so well for their clubs and clearly we would like to pick them. There is no doubt we would like to have them with us in terms of ... do we think they deserve to be in on their performances, absolutely.”
Southgate included Chelsea pair Mason Mount and Reece James, who, he suggested, would be fit for the Premier League game against Southampton tomorrow. He also included Luke Shaw, who has been absent for United because of illness. However, he admitted that including those three added an “element of the unknown” over whether they would actually be fit to play.
Southgate has kept faith with Aston Villa centre-back Tyrone Mings, although he said: “I think, if we’re frank, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag club-wise this season. He knows that.”
Ben Chilwell, who Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel claimed had been left “mentally tired” after not featuring for England at the Euros, is omitted. “There’s no hiding that Ben had a difficult summer with us,” Southgate said.
There is a recall for goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, who has claimed the No 1 spot at Arsenal and replaces Burnley’s Nick Pope, while fit-again Villa forward Ollie Watkins was also brought back. Southgate said he was “very impressed” by another striker, Ivan Toney, who has excelled with newly-promoted Brentford.
“We have watched him this season, so we know all about him,” Southgate said. “We weren’t looking to take an additional striker for this camp but he is definitely a player we are monitoring closely.”
England squad in full
On the jailing of the West Brom fan for racial abuse on social media
I think it's important we take online abuse seriously. We want a tolerant society and I think that's where we're heading.
On Harry Kane
I can only talk from an England perspective, and he goes out and scores a load of goals [for us]. He has a lot of personal motivation but also knows we are eight points away from securing qualification.
On the absence of Greenwood and Bellingham
They're both young players with a heavy load. These lads are still physically growing. I've spoken to both. We have to be careful how we handle them. They are going to be very exciting players for England in the future and we don't want to overload them. I've come to the decision through talking to the players and their families, not doing a deal with the clubs.
We'd be picking them if we didn't have those longer-term considerations.
On James, Mount and Shaw
Our understanding is that Mason and Reece have a good chance for the weekend. We will track that. Luke's is more of an illness than an injury and we don't play until next Saturday.
On Aaron Ramsdale
He was with us all summer, we were working with him for a long time and understand his strengths. Nick [Pope] is still coming back from injury, we juts think Aaron is in better form.
He has adapted well to his move, to playing it out from the back [more].
Southgate on Tomori
Very impressed with the way he is playing for Milan, we were tracking him very closely at the end of last season. He played very well against Liverpool and Juventus. I like the aggressiveness of his defending. Because he's got speed he's confident enough to defend on the front foot and his use of the ball is improving all the time
No Ben White
Which is a bit of a shock. Tomori preferred.
Mason Mount and Reece James
Are both named despite missing Chelsea's Champions League match against Juventus with injuries.
Fikayo Tomori, Phil Foden and Ollie Watkins all return to the squad.
Here's your squad
— England (@England) September 30, 2021
Right, all set?
A teacher is about to speak ...
Kalvin Phillips on threshold of signing a new Leeds contract
By John Percy
Kalvin Phillips is poised to commit his long-term future to Leeds United by signing a new contract.
Phillips, the England international, is in advanced talks with the Leeds hierarchy over improved terms and it is understood an agreement is close.
The 25 year old has been a revelation at Elland Road and emerged as one of the Premier League's most highly-regarded midfielders, also playing a key role for Gareth Southgate's England at Euro 2020 earlier this year.
Leeds are aware of interest from rival clubs across Europe in their homegrown star and have moved to ensure Phillips is rewarded for his importance to Marcelo Bielsa's team.
Phillips' agent, Kevin Sharp, said: "I've had positive discussions with Leeds throughout the summer on a new contract for Kalvin and talks are ongoing.
"I can only see a positive outcome. Kalvin's desire is to stay at Leeds and there is a real willingness from all sides to make it happen."
Phillips' current contract expires in 2024 but the new deal will be a huge boost to Bielsa, who has played a major role in developing his career.
Born in Leeds, Philips joined the club's academy at the age of 14 and has gone on to make over 200 appearances since making his first-team debut in 2015.
Leeds face Watford at home in the Premier League this weekend
There's a glorious picture of Sir Roger on the FA website
Here's a flavour:
We're extremely saddened to learn that Roger Hunt, who was a key member of our @FIFAWorldCup-winning side in 1966, has passed away at the age of 83.
Our deepest condolences go to Roger's family, friends and former clubs. pic.twitter.com/LlVcUepVQ1
— England (@England) September 28, 2021
England's previous two away matches against Andorra
Were held in Barcelona's Olympic Stadium before they built their own national stadium, winning 3-0 by virtue of two goals from Steven Gerrard and one from David Nugent in 2007, the day Steve McClaren was seriously in need of a Fun & Laughter Bar after stropping out of the post-match interviews, and 2-0 under Fabio Capello the following year, when Joe Cole contributed both goals.
At last, a week on Saturday, England will make their bow om Andorran soil at Estadi Nacional.
Here's a flavour of Matt Law's report on Southgate's defensive conundrum
Harry Maguire, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold are all fitness doubts ahead of England manager Southgate naming his latest squad on Thursday.
Arsenal’s Ben White is likely to replace Maguire if, as expected, the Manchester United captain is ruled out, while Southgate will also be concerned that John Stones is still yet to play a single minute for Manchester City this season.
Others in with a shout
It can't be Michail Anotonio for the injured Pat Bamford, obviously, after making his Jamaica debut this month. Danny Ings? Ivan Toney? And how about a call-up for Demarai Gray after 26 appearances for the Under-21s, the first flurry of them under Southgate?
Gareth Southgate's press conference starts at 2pm. One suspects he will revert to those with some international experience to fill the gaps in defence, either with caps or as non-playing members of previous squads. Tariq Lamptey could have done with another couple of weeks to earn the chance his pre-injury performances deserved but with Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier Southgate's default choices, Tino Livramento et al should not expect much game time even if they are called up.
Gareth Southgate is expected to name a largely tried and tested England squad today for the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary.
With the Three Lions in control of Group I, they travel to the Pyrenees to face Andorra on October 9 before hosting Hungary at Wembley three days later.
For the September triple-header, Southgate stuck with the majority of the squad which took England to the final of Euro 2020 earlier in the summer.
There will have to be changes this time around with Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire likely to miss out with a calf problem and Trent Alexander-Arnold suffering an adductor injury in Liverpool training earlier this week.
While Southgate has plenty of options in defence, those injuries could present an opportunity for the likes of Ben White, Fikayo Tomori or Joe Gomez to earn recalls.
White is the most likely, having settled into life at Arsenal after being included in the squad at the European Championship as a late replacement for Alexander-Arnold.
With the Liverpool right-back missing once more - and concerns over the severity of an ankle injury to Chelsea's Reece James - Southgate may be tempted to take a look at a number of uncapped full-backs including Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Tino Livramento or Max Aarons.
In midfield and attack
One player almost certain to return is Manchester City's Phil Foden, who missed the recent games with Hungary, Andorra and Poland due to a foot complaint.
It remains to be seen, however, if Manchester United's Mason Greenwood will earn a call-up.
The 19-year-old has one senior cap but was left out in September despite scoring in United's opening three Premier League fixtures of the new campaign with Southgate saying Greenwood was "in his thoughts" but that he was conscious that progression into a senior England player came at the right time.
Instead, Leeds striker Patrick Bamford was included as the only new face but he struggled on his debut and has hit just one goal in six club appearances this season.
If Southgate wants to continue auditioning understudies for Harry Kane, Brentford's Ivan Toney may have a sniff of being involved following his fine start.
Toney has two goals and two assists so far and has played a big part in Brentford's impressive Premier League introduction.
Kane himself will be included despite failing to find the back of the net in the Premier League for Tottenham so far this season.
He scored three in three during the last international break and is now three behind the 44 England goals scored by Jimmy Greaves - who died earlier this month.
The home fixture against Hungary will be an emotional one with tributes to both Greaves and fellow 1966 World Cup winner Roger Hunt, who died this week, with the Football Association finalising plans on how the two players will be remembered.