Brentford striker Ivan Toney’s inclusion tops the surprising list of players called up to the national team.
England head coach Gareth Southgate has made plenty of surprises with his squad selection for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers. The Three Lions are set to face defending European champions Italy and Ukraine later this month. When picking the 25-man squad for these contests, Southgate has left a few people surprised. The interesting decisions have not only been with the players he has included in the squad but also with the ones he left out. The most notable omission is Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Alexander-Arnold has been heavily criticised this season for his defending. Playing at Liverpool, the 24-year-old has constantly received criticism from pundits for his lack of positioning or defensive awareness on the pitch. Hence, his omission might not necessarily come as a major shock for some people. However, considering his age and his ability with the ball, it does raise a few eyebrows. Another such notable omission is Premier League leaders Arsenal’s defender Ben White.
White has been majorly playing at right back for the Gunners but has also done a decent job in the centre-back role if required. Keeping in mind England’s squad depth in that position, White’s exclusion will not be a major problem. Experienced Chelsea winger Raheem Sterling also does not have a place in the squad. He has always been a regular under Southgate. The England head coach explained the reason behind Sterling’s absence, as quoted by skysports.com, “Sterling’s not fit. We would have selected him had he been available.”
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Brentford striker Ivan Toney’s inclusion tops the surprising list of players called up to the national team. Toney is reported to have been involved in alleged breaches of the FA’s gambling rules, hence it is a bit surprising to see the centre-forward being included in the squad. However, if his off-the pitch issues are kept aside, the centre-forward is having a brilliant season this time around on the pitch for Brentford.
Gareth Southgate stated, “The fact is that Ivan is available for his club. There hasn’t been a trial or any judgement as yet so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him. He’s playing really well. I like his presence in games and he deserves his opportunity.”
He added: “With White, it’s similar to Alexander-Arnold really. The three boys who are in as right full-backs, we’ve got them just ahead of those two. We’re blessed in that position with the depth of talent. Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier were the ones who played at the World Cup and Reece James coming back is another top player. We’d love to have that depth in every position on the field, really.”
The inclusion of Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips and Manchester United defender Harry Maguire in the squad has also raised a lot of eyebrows. Both players have been struggling massively to get playing time on the pitch for their respective clubs yet Southgate continues to retain his trust with them. Mason Mount has also a place in the squad despite his struggles this season with Chelsea.
GKs: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope
Dfs: Harry Maguire, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell, Eric Dier, Kieran Trippier, Marc Guehi, Reece James
MFs: Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Mason Mount, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison STs: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Ivan Toney, Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish
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