Published 24 May 2022 5 min read
England Men's Senior Team
Southgate assesses squad selection
Three Lions boss speaks about new faces in his squad ahead of busy schedule in June
Gareth Southgate has spoken about the choices he had to make in picking his England squad for June’s UEFA Nations League games.
The Three Lions boss named a 27-man squad on Tuesday ahead of the four games with Hungary (twice), Germany and Italy next month.
And with a busy schedule of games to come just over a week after the end of the domestic season, Southgate has taken the opportunity to have a look at some of his younger players as England take another step towards the World Cup at the end of the year.
"Always with England, you need to play well and to win and we've always had a desire to try and develop players and give them an opportunity, so this time that is another factor,” he said.
"We're only six matches away from a World Cup and we also want to be successful in the Nations League.
“We've found it a really good tournament to play in, with a high level of games and we've learned a lot from it but there's also a chance to see some players we want to see more of.”
Among the group are two first-time call-ups in the shape of West Ham United’s Jarrod Bowen and Leicester City’s James Justin, while there’s also a return to the squad for AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori.
And Southgate says all three are fully deserving of their call-ups, starting with former Hereford United and Hull City forward Bowen.
"He's had consistently strong performances and we were certainly thinking about involving him in March before he got injured,” he revealed.
"I think he's a goal threat, he's direct and his journey is really interesting in terms of the experiences that he's had and it's a reminder that you don't just have to have had been at an elite academy and come through that pathway. To play in the lower divisions and have that experience is a great route to come through.
"He works incredibly hard for the team which we want all of our forward players to do, so he thoroughly deserves his call up.
"And James is a player we've followed for a long time. He obviously had a very serious injury and we feel he’s now played the right number of matches and been able to play more regularly.
"He's comfortable playing left or right back, he’s very comfortable on the ball, a super athlete and a very good person from all the feedback we've had on him from the under-21s and the people who've worked with him. So we're really looking forward to working with him more closely.
“Fikayo has had a very good season at Milan and I talked in March about wanting to see some of the younger centre-backs coming through and along with Marc [Guehi] and Ben White, I think those guys have had very good seasons.
"They're always difficult calls as you've got a sense of loyalty to people who have done well but we have to make opportunities for good young players to see them and what they might be capable of.”
Southgate also explained the reason behind why Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson won’t be involved during the summer camp, following discussions with the player on the back of what has been an exceptional season with his club which will end with Saturday’s UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid.
"The decision around Hendo comes as he's played 60-plus games this season, is going into a Champions League Final as well, he's 32 years old and I don't need to know anymore about him,” he added.
"Everyone else is getting a week off now, him and Trent are still going so Trent will probably be with us for the first part of the camp and then we think that will be enough for him.
"I was very conscious with the Champions League boys as they've had a remarkable season really and couldn’t have been involved in any more matches.
"We've learned over the last three or four years when we've had players from that match, the emotional fallout from that game, win or lose, is enormous.
"You're not too sure what's going to come through the door and it's very difficult to get yourselves up after that.
“I spoke with the two lads about where they felt with that and what was best for them. They're in different positions, because Jordan's age and the number of caps he's got is totally different to Trent of course.
“But we've got good players in all those areas of the pitch and we've got cover.”
Southgate and his squad will meet up at St. George’s Park on Monday 30 May to begin their preparations for the games.