Gareth Southgate speaks about his squad selection for September
The Three Lions boss touched on the inclusion of Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson, leaving out Raheem Sterling and the two new faces in the group
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The Three Lions are back in EURO 2024 qualifying action when they face Ukraine first in Wroclaw, before they head to Hampden Park for a 150th Anniversary Heritage game with the Auld Enemy.
And the England boss faced questions about his selection for the games, with first call-ups for Levi Colwill and Eddie Nketiah as well as the inclusion of others.
Find out what he had to say about each of those topics around his squad selection.
On Nketiah and Colwill’s inclusion in the squad and his general thoughts on his selection
“They’re two young players who have been doing very well and have done well with our junior teams.
“Levi of course had some time with us in the summer and is progressing really well. We really liked him at the end of last season with Brighton and that’s why we brought him in to train with us [in June].
“He had a good tournament with the MU21s and he showed under pressure that he could cope with those things and he’s started really well with Chelsea this season, albeit in a slightly different position which isn’t ideal for him because he hasn’t done it for a while but has done it in the past.
“It’s very early stages in his career but he’s really made good progress.
“Eddie’s a young player with a really good pedigree. He’s a really good finisher and it’s good for him to have some time with us.
“He’s the record goalscorer for our MU21s as well and he hasn’t had the chance to work with us up until this point but he’s a player we’re really interested in.”
“The basis of this squad is that we left Old Trafford [v North Macedonia] after two really good performances, and four good performances in the group, so I didn’t really want to move from the squad we had that day and we’re only three games into the start of the season.
“But we’ve had a lot of people at the back with a lot of issues, so we’ve had to make changes there and the only other change is Eddie who is coming in because it’s an area where we’d like to have a look at him.”
On Raheem Sterling not being included in the squad…
“We were really pleased with the group [from June] and to bring Raheem back in, we’d have to leave someone else out and on the back of three games, I didn’t think anyone in this attacking group of players warrants being left out.
“It’s really good to see Raheem start the season so well, he looks in good condition, he looks hungry and he’s obviously an important player for us and has been an important player for us.
“But in those attacking areas, just behind the nine, we have a lot of competition for places and I think all of those players have started the season well and the group that are with us have done really well in recent games.
“He wasn’t available for the last two [selections] and that’s given the opportunity for other people to play well and establish themselves in the group.
“It’s a difficult call and Raheem’s not particularly happy about it, but I understand that because he’s an important player for us and I’m convinced he’s going to have an excellent season with Chelsea, I have no doubt about that.”
On Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips’ inclusion in the squad…
“With Harry Maguire, we’ve lost a lot of experienced players in terms of caps in central defence so we’re giving some less experienced players the opportunity to come into the squad. Unfortunately it looks like Tyrone [Mings] is out for most of the season, Eric Dier hasn’t been in Tottenham’s squad and Conor Coady is now playing in the Championship with Leicester.
“Looking at all the players we’ve given caps to in that position within the last few years, there is a space there and for these two games it’s important that we have experience in that area of the pitch.
“Clearly with both Harry and Kalvin Phillips, it’s far from ideal that they’re not playing football at the moment.
“At the weekend, Declan Rice was the only English player to start at the weekend as a single pivot and Kalvin is the next best position to do that and while Hendo could play there and Conor Gallagher could play there, it’s not their best position.
“We’ve got players in the league in a double pivot, like Angel Gomes is doing that, but it’s a different role. So it’s not a good situation that those guys aren’t playing football and in certain positions we have a lot of depth but in others we don’t have a lot of depth.”
On Jordan Henderson’s move to play in Saudi Arabia and his selection…
“We’ve watched every game and the key as we move forward is going to be the physical intensity of the league because of the heat and whether that’s going to allow him to perform at the level we need. That’s a huge consideration.
“Clearly, the level of the league is changing all the time and lots of other countries are going to have this issue. Portugal have now got a few players there and other European countries have got players there but I’m sure they’re still going to be playing international football.
“Both Hendo and ourselves have got to assess where he’s going to sit in terms of our squad and map him against those other players. That’s not as easy when you’re not playing in Champions League games or Premier League games every week, but as I’ve already discussed with other players who are not in the squad, it’s not a straightforward decision when picking any of the positions.”
Competition in the left-back position…
“There aren’t many English left-backs playing at the highest level, you’re talking Tyrique Mitchell, Rico Henry, Ben [Chilwell] and Dan Burn is a centre back playing at left-back at Newcastle with Luke [Shaw] missing.
“Levi Colwill covers both of those positions so it will be interesting to see him play there. There may be one or two others that we look at in that area as the season goes on, but for what is two important games for us, this is the squad we felt was the right one.”
On captain Harry Kane and his summer move to Bayern Munich…
“I think it’s a really good challenge for him. Bayern Munich is a huge football club and he’s leaving a big club here to go to the biggest one in Germany. He’s going to be expected to be challenging for trophies in every game he plays, he has a new set of supporters to win over and a new set of teammates to impress every day on the training field.
“So in that respect, a fresh challenge for him I would view as a positive and from a life experience perspective, to live in a different culture and country is brilliant for your personal development and family.
“I’m looking forward to speaking to him a little bit more, we’ve spoken briefly, but it’ll be good to see how he’s finding everything when we meet next week.”