February 29, 2024

 

I have no issue with Sterling – England boss Southgate

Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson has been recalled to the England squad by manager Gareth Southgate for their final two Euro 2024 qualifiers.

 

Wilson, 31, has scored seven Premier League goals this season, but sustained a hamstring injury as Newcastle lost at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

 

Tottenham midfielder James Maddison and Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka are also in despite injury worries.

 

England play Malta on 17 November and North Macedonia on 20 November.

 

Southgate’s side have already qualified for the tournament in Germany next June and July after a 3-1 win against Italy in October.

 

Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling, who has has 82 caps and 20 goals for England, is left out of a fifth successive squad.

 

Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins retains his place after his first inclusion since March 2022 for the October international matches, while Jordan Henderson, who joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Ettifaq from Liverpool in July, also keeps his spot.

 

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah and Manchester City defender John Stones are both out injured.

 

Southgate said during his news conference on Thursday the door was “100% open” for 28-year-old Sterling and other players who have not been chosen.

 

“We don’t need to know about his quality, his personality. He is a crucial part of why we’ve had the journey we’ve had over the last few years,” said the England boss.

 

I can only repeat what I have said in the meetings, we’re playing exceptionally well and who can I leave out?”

 

Southgate also said Chelsea right-back Reece James asked to be left out of the squad as he did not feel “quite ready”, having only recently returned to action after a hamstring issue.

 

Short presentational grey line

England squad

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)

 

Defenders: Levi Colwill (Chelsea), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

 

Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Al-Ettifaq), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (Arsenal)

 

Forwards: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), James Maddison (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa), Callum Wilson (Newcastle)

 

The 30-year-old only made his first start for United on 26 September but has made manager Erik ten Hag’s starting line-up in the past seven games, scoring one goal against Copenhagen in the Champions League.

“I thought it might be the first time without a question about him,” said Southgate. “It’s great he has been playing, you want all your players playing.”

Analysis

Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer

England manager Gareth Southgate insists the door is still open for Raheem Sterling to reignite his international career but there is no doubt he is very much on the outside looking in after being excluded again for the final Euro 2024 qualifiers with Malta and North Macedonia.

Sterling’s England career may not be over – but he faces a huge battle to resurrect it.

 

 

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