Skip to main content
Published 16 March 2023 6 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Toney, Sterling, EURO qualifiers and more...Gareth Southgate explains his England squad selection

Written by:

Frank Smith

Southgate discusses his England squad ahead of the UEFA EURO 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine

Gareth Southgate spoke to the media on Thursday afternoon after naming his squad for this month’s UEFA EURO 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine.

The England manager touched on a host of subjects, including the return of four players and why others were omitted this time around.

The Three Lions kick off their UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying campaign away to Italy on Thursday 23 March before returning home to Wembley Stadium connected by EE on Sunday 26 March to face Ukraine.

See below for a selection of Southgate’s responses from his squad announcement press conference at St. George’s Park.

EURO qualifiers coming so soon after a World Cup

“That is the big challenge we have got. To go to a World Cup, everyone wanted to be there and the fight for places was immense, the hunger was there and it was clear. Now you have to start again.

“I know exactly where our most senior players are with that challenge: they are ready. The Hendersons, the Kanes, they set the tone for that sort of mentality that is going to be needed. 

“We have basically a couple of days on the training pitch to prepare for a humdinger of a game in Naples so we have got to makes sure we are ready for that but I think the players will be ready for that. I know we are as a group of staff and it is a good test for us.

“These are the sorts of games where we have to show we can go to these places and win. That is the next step for us as a team.”

Ivan Toney and Ben Chilwell are among those who are back in the England squad
Ivan Toney and Ben Chilwell are among those who are back in the England squad

Selection of Ivan Toney

“The fact is he is playing for his club and available for his club. There hasn’t been a trial or any judgement yet so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him really.

“Before the World Cup, Callum Wilson had a brilliant run of form and hit form just at the right time. He has had a little bit of an injury which has inhibited his performances in the last few weeks. 

“Ivan has been consistent across the season. Of course, as soon as we named the World Cup squad, Ivan had a brilliant game at Manchester City – which was typical – but he is playing really well.

“I like his presence in games. I saw his game against Arsenal where I thought he was outstanding, and he deserves his opportunity.”

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Raheem Sterling and Ben White’s absence

“Raheem is not fit so that is that one.” When asked if he would have selected him if fit, Southgate replied: “Yeah absolutely.

“It is similar with Ben and Trent really. The three boys who are in at right full-back, we have them just ahead of these two.

“We are blessed in that position because of the depth of talent and it is the hardest position to pick, albeit it is never a straightforward criterion and it is always shifting a little bit around on form as well.

“Kyle and Tripps are obviously the ones who started the games in the World Cup and have been consistent, and Reece coming back is another top player.

“We would love to have that depth in every position on the field really.”

Raheem Sterling has been one of England's most consistent performers in recent years
Raheem Sterling has been one of England's most consistent performers in recent years

What Trent Alexander-Arnold has to do to replace the other right-backs in the squad

“I think I have always communicated clearly with all the players on what we think their strengths are and what we think they might be able to improve upon.

“In the past, we have taken more players in that position but I think this is a time in the season where you don’t want to carry too many if they are not going to play. They would be as well to have a break and re-energize.

“I am not going to go into a coaching conversation but all of the players that have not made the squad know the reasons why and I think we always give clarity on that.”

England Women letter post-EURO leading to Government change

“I know for the England Women team, a huge part of the drive for them to succeed in the summer was the legacy piece and that opportunity for everybody to be able to play sport was high on their agenda. So it is brilliant that they have been able to have an influence and get that through.”

Watch Gareth Southgate's press conference in full below.

Play grassroots football