Gareth Southgate recently announced his 25-man England squad for the November internationals. The full squad can be seen below.
There are some very noticeable absentees from the squad, including Manchester United summer signing Jadon Sancho. After completing his £76 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund, the 21-years-old hasn’t been able to hit the ground running, leading to his exclusion from the squad this time round.
Speaking back in 2017 to The Times, Southgate said: “I’ll pick players on form and not reputation”. However, he has still opted with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings. Compare these players’ form to the likes of Jarrod Bowen, Fikayo Tomori and Conor Gallagher, and you really have to call into question if Southgate is sticking to his promise.
Take Tomori for example, the man has played every minute for AC Milan this season as they sit second in Serie A, only behind Napoli on goal difference. Compare this to Mings whose Aston Villa team sit 16th in the Premier League, having conceded the third most goals, and it’s almost unthinkable to include one and not the other.
Speaking to Sky Sports reporters on Thursday, England manager Southgate said: “It’s always difficult (to pick a squad) because we’ve got so much competition for places and we had quite a few players missing last time, which means you bring others in. Then you’ve got more decisions to make.”
While rotation is needed, the World Cup is only a year away and there is limited game time between then and now. Every player must get minutes considering the squad will have to be trimmed further for the tournament.
Another exclusion is Mason Greenwood. With four goals from 11 games this season, he has more goals than any attacker included in the squad. It seems Southgate has made an agreement with Greenwood that he would not participate until 2022. In his interview with Sky Sports on Thursday, Southgate also said: “I think we had a discussion before the camp in September and we came to an agreement that he would not play.” Of course a player’s welfare is naturally more important than playing football, but with a World Cup coming up we want to see our best players playing.
England only need to win their next game against Albania at home to qualify for the tournament, so you would hope that if England were to triumph, Southgate would chop and change the line-up for San Marino. This again calls the question, why not include players based on form?
Last time out for England was a disappointing 1-1 draw at Hungary. On paper, the starting line-up was one of England’s strongest. Although England top their group and this result won’t impact them too harshly, questions will still be asked if they can’t turn their form around in their remaining fixtures.
England are coming off the back of their most successful tournament for 25 years. The pressure will be on Southgate at this World Cup more than ever. So, surely he should be taking this opportunity to identify his best squad?
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