Marc Guéhi has been named in the England squad for the first time. The centre-back is joined by his Crystal Palace teammate Conor Gallagher, who has one cap, and Manchester United captain Harry Maguire who is struggling for club form.
Gareth Southgate has named a 25-man squad, in which Guéhi was the only new addition. Notable omissions include Manchester United wide pair Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho. Rashford has been inconsistent so far this season, while Southgate said about Sancho that his “other attacking players are slightly ahead of him at the moment.”
Elsewhere, Reece James has been included at right-back despite missing the last few weeks for Chelsea with an injury he picked up on his long-awaited return against Burnley. He has been picked alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold in that position, with the England manager confirming he has told the omitted Kyle Walker that he wants to examine those two instead this month.
England play two Wembley friendlies at the end of this month, with Switzerland and then Côte d’Ivoire visiting the national stadium on 26 and 29 March respectively. After that, six Nations League games separate this month and the Three Lions’ World Cup opener in Qatar in November.Embed from Getty Images
With so many of Southgate’s most crucial players either injured or out of sorts in terms of club form, the England boss was expected to call a few new names into the squad this month. But it has, more or less, been another selection where Southgate has remained loyal to those of his senior players who are available, regardless of form. Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings have been performing at lower levels than they’d like, but still make it in. And Manchester United captain Maguire also makes it in despite a wretched season so far.
On Maguire’s selection, Southgate said: “I don’t think it ever crossed our minds not to select Harry Maguire for this squad.” That shows loyalty to a player who has been erratic for his club this season but who has never let England down.
Southgate has admitted he will play more than one goalkeeper this month, suggesting first-choice Jordan Pickford and Arsenal’s in-form Aaron Ramsdale may get a game each, just as they did in the last international break in November.Embed from Getty Images
Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell, Wolves’s Maximilian Kilman, two-cap AC Milan man Fikayo Tomori and Aston Villa’s Jacob Ramsey are just four names who were touted as possible surprise inclusions. Asked whether Ramsey is on his radar, Southgate said: “Absolutely, Jacob’s doing really well.”
However, Southgate has named a small squad in which the England U21 captain Marc Guéhi — who coincidentally could also have turned out for one of England’s opponents this month, Côte d’Ivoire — is the only uncapped inclusion.
Squad in full
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton); Nick Pope (Burnley); Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defenders: Trent Alexander Arnold (Liverpool); Conor Coady (Wolves); Marc Guéhi (Crystal Palace); Reece James (Chelsea); Harry Maguire (Manchester United); Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa); Luke Shaw (Manchester United); John Stones (Manchester City); Ben White (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund); Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace); Jordan Henderson (Liverpool); Mason Mount (Chelsea); Declan Rice (West Ham United); James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Roma); Phil Foden (Manchester City); Jack Grealish (Manchester City); Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur); Bukayo Saka (Arsenal); Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal); Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)