Gareth Southgate has named two new faces in his 27-man squad for England’s four Nations League matches in June. West Ham United forward Jarrod Bowen and versatile Leicester City full-back James Justin have been rewarded for strong finishes to the domestic season with maiden England call-ups.
Elsewhere, two days after being crowned a Serie A champion as a staple of the AC Milan defence, centre-back Fikayo Tomori returns — having previously won two caps across three years. There is a re-call for striker Tammy Abraham, who has also been shining in the Italian first division — leading the line for José Mourinho’s AS Roma. This term, Abraham broke the record for the most goals by an Englishman in a single Serie A season with 17 goals in 37 games.
England have the first four of their six 2022/23 UEFA Nations League fixtures to fulfil next month. England face Hungary in Budapest on 4 June and then Germany in Munich on 7 June, before hosting Euro 2020 final conquerors Italy and the Hungarians on 11 and 14 June respectively. Both home matches take place at Molineux, the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
England squads during the Southgate era have taken on a rather predictable guise. There are usually slim pickings in terms of talking points, due to the England manager having a large group of trusted internationals who he opts to rotate in and out of camps as little as possible.Embed from Getty Images
In goal and in midfield, this is the squad any England fan would have expected to see, with two possible exceptions. Firstly, Jordan Henderson has been left out. As Henderson is nearly 32 and his Liverpool teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold is in, Southgate and the player have come to an agreement that the experienced midfielder should enjoy an extended period of respite after a draining season in which Liverpool have played in every club match open to them by virtue of reaching the EFL Cup final, FA Cup final and Champions League final. “I don’t need to know any more about him,” said Southgate.
James Maddison’s omission is also slightly puzzling, but perhaps expected nonetheless. The Leicester City midfielder earned a cameo debut for the seniors in their 1000th match as they thrashed Montenegro 7–0 in November 2019. But despite a number of purple patches since, he has found it difficult to return. Sometimes there are excellent players who managers, for whatever reason, just do not fancy in their team. Maddison may be one of these. A 20-goal Premier League season next term would surely force Southgate’s hand — but Maddison must be growing tired of feeling his good form has been overlooked. Southgate said “there’s a lot of strength in depth” in the position.
Ben Chilwell returned for Chelsea on the final day of the season, following a long ACL injury that stole most of his season. But he and Luke Shaw have not been deemed fit enough to warrant England call-ups, which is the likely reason why Leicester’s James Justin has received his first selection. The 24-year-old was due for a shock call into the Euro 2020 squad that reached the final last summer, but he got injured at the worst possible time. Here he has finally been introduced into the England seniors’ setup. He is a right-footed right-back by trade but is comfortable deputising on the left. He and Kieran Trippier will likely share left-back duties across the four matches, with no nominal left-back named.Embed from Getty Images
Elsewhere, it resembles most of Southgate’s squads for the last two years or so. Manchester United captain Harry Maguire makes it in, but there is once again no space for Marcus Rashford or Jadon Sancho. Southgate will likely be asked why that is, and he will refer to the strong squad depth in those positions. That squad depth has grown even deeper with Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka becoming such integral players at Arsenal this term, and Jarrod Bowen becoming West Ham’s undisputed talisman. Saka and Bowen are in — Bowen for his first involvement with England at any level — but Smith Rowe has not been selected.
If Justin’s selection is a slight surprise, Bowen’s is not. Neither is Fikayo Tomori’s re-call. The Canadian-born defender has barely put a foot wrong all season for AC Milan. He is well on the way to becoming England’s best centre-back.
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), James Justin (Leicester City), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham United), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Forwards: Tammy Abraham (AS Roma), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham United), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).