Southgate relishing challenge of Qatar World Cup
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England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed the latest squad for his side’s two upcoming friendlies. The Three Lions take on Switzerland at Wembley on Saturday March 26 before facing Ivory Coast at the same stadium three days later on Tuesday March 29.
Marcus Rashford has been dropped by Southgate with sources close to the player saying he just needs a rest. The striker’s form has dropped alarmingly this season, with just two goals since October. He began the season late after finally getting treatment on back and shoulder problems he had been suffering at the end of last season.
However, despite his lack of goals he has been given little respite from the Manchester United line-up as Ralf Rangnick tries to steady a wobbling ship at Old Trafford. It means a return to the fold of Tammy Abraham, who has been impressive since joining Roma, and a continuation at senior level for Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe. Arsenal’s form is reflected in the inclusion of Aaron Ramsdale alongside Nick Pope to challenge Jordan Pickford and Ben White is chosen in defence.
There he will be alongside Marc Guehi of Crystal Palace, who has developed immensely under Patrick Vieira. England technically only qualified when they rattled in 10 against San Marino four months ago in Serravalle, their biggest international win for 57 years. Now the Three Lions build-up to the November tournament begins in earnest with home friendlies at Wembley against Switzerland on Saturday, March 29 and the Ivory Coast will be the opposition at the same venue three days later.
Sir Geoff Hurst only got his first England call-up four months before the 1966 World Cup so there is still chance for somebody unexpected to make an impact in Qatar. But once again Southgate has shown a good deal of faith in the old guard who took him to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 and went one stage further at Euro 2020.
Despite his horrendous form for Manchester United, stalwart Harry Maguire keeps his place in the 23-man squad Southgate named from the team base at St George’s Park today. Injuries, however, have robbed him of Ben Chilwell and Kalvin Phillips, although fit-again Reece James is included.
And there may be some eyebrows raised that Jadon Sancho has not made the squad given his fine form for United of late. Kyle Walker has also been rested to give Southgate a proper chance to look at Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold
Squad in full: Goalkeepers: Nick Pope (Burnley), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace), Declan Rice (West Ham United), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Forwards: Tammy Abraham (AS Roma), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur),Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
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