This afternoon England manager Gareth Southgate announced his squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine.
The main talking points are that Ivan Toney has been selected for the squad and Raheem Sterling, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben White all miss out.
SOUTHGATE: “HE DESERVES HIS OPPORTUNITY.”
One of the biggest discussion points of this squad selection will be the inclusion of Brentford striker Ivan Toney who is under investigation having been charged in November 2022 of breaching the FA’s betting rules 262 times.
It’s understood that Toney has pleaded guilty to many of the 262 charges and is expected to face at least a six month ban when he faces an independent regulatory commission in the coming months.
Despite this, Southgate called Toney up to the England squad saying: “He’s available for his club, there hasn’t been a trial as of yet or any judgment so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him really.” He also went on to say: “He deserves his opportunity.”
The striker has scored 16 goals so far this season in the Premier League, Harry Kane is the only Englishman to have scored more than him in the Premier League so far this season. Toney has five goal involvements in eight games for Brentford in 2023 leaving Gareth Southgate with no choice but to include him.
STERLING INJURED AND WHITE WOES
There were some notable absentees in Southgate’s squad coming in the form of Raheem Sterling, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Ben White. In his press conference Southgate revealed that Sterling missed out due to injury and when asked whether he would’ve been selected if he was fit Southgate said: “Yeah, absolutely.”
His choice to leave Alexander-Arnold and White out of the squad was tactical with Southgate revealing that the three right-backs selected (Kyle Walker, Reece James and Kieran Trippier) were further ahead in his estimations.
There were many people interested to see whether Ben White would be included after his shock departure from the England squad. Neither White himself nor Southgate have clarified why he left mid tournament so many will be speculating whether that will have anything to do with this exclusion from the squad.
WALKER KEEPS HIS PLACE
There was speculation that Kyle Walker may not have been selected by Southgate after being recently the subject of a police investigation into allegations of indecent exposure. This came after footage emerged online of the Manchester City defender seemingly exposing himself multiple times in a bar in Wilmslow.
When asked about the controversy around Walker, Southgate said “We have had a couple of long conversations and we feel we want him with us, and we think that’s the right thing to do.” Similar to the comments made about Ivan Toney, Southgate also said: “He’s back playing for his club and there is no conclusive evidence to leave him out at this stage.”
His club manager Pep Guardiola took a similar stance however Walker has only played four minutes for Manchester City since these allegations emerged.
Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, and Aaron Ramsdale all keep their places after impressive club form with Pope and Ramsdale leading the race for the golden glove.
In defence Harry Maguire kept his place despite only starting two games for Manchester United since the World Cup. Chelsea full-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell retuned to the squad after injury kept them out the World Cup. Marc Guehi takes the place of Conor Coady with the latter struggling to cement his place in Everton’s defence in recent weeks.
In midfield James Maddison earns yet another call up after failing to play a minute in the World Cup due to injury and Kalvin Philips keeps his place after just playing 55 minutes for Manchester City since the World Cup.
As for the forwards, Callum Wilson misses out in the place of Ivan Toney. Southgate said that the strikers battle with injury in recent weeks coupled with Toney’s consistency meant he missed out.
Southgate also touched on the exclusion of Brighton players Lewis Dunk and Solly March. The England manager said: “They’re playing very well, and their club is playing very well” but justified their exclusion saying: “I’ve got to pick the team and the squad that I think gives us the best chance of winning in two really big matches coming up, experience is part of that.”
THE FULL ENGLAND SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale.
Defenders: Ben Chilwell, Eric Dier, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice.
Forwards: Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney.