AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori called into England squad

Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood both left out to manage their playing load

AC Milan’s English defender Fikayo Tomori in action against Juventus in Turin. Photograph: Getty Images

AC Milan’s English defender Fikayo Tomori in action against Juventus in Turin. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The Milan central defender Fikayo Tomori and Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins have been included by Gareth Southgate in England’s squad to face Andorra and Hungary in World Cup qualifiers.

Tomori has been rewarded for his club form in the absence of the injured Harry Maguire and, in a surprise twist, there is no place for Arsenal’s Ben White. Joe Gomez, Ben Chilwell and the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold are also missing from the defensive ranks but Reece James is included despite recently sustaining an injury with Chelsea. Southgate said his understanding was that James had a chance of returning on Saturday against Southampton.

Watkins was preferred up front to options such as Danny Ings and Tammy Abraham, with Patrick Bamford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Marcus Rashford unavailable. Mason Greenwood has again been left out to manage his playing load as a teenager and Jude Bellingham has been omitted by Southgate for the same reason. Bellingham has started all 10 games Borussia Dortmund have played this season.

“We have to remember these lads are still physically growing so when we talk about young player development we have to be really careful in how we handle them,” Southgate said. “These are two players we think can be really exciting for England’s future. We don’t want to overload them.”

The goalkeeper Nick Pope drops out, with Aaron Ramsdale preferred after strong performances for Arsenal. Phil Foden returns after recovering from injury and Southgate said Emile Smith Rowe and his clubmate White were “very close” to selection. The manager said he was “trying to respect the squad that made the (EURO 2020) final and not make too many changes”.

Tomori won his only cap in November 2019 against Kosovo and Watkins’ inclusion is his first since he was cut from the provisional Euro 2020 squad.

“I like Fikayo in terms of his aggressiveness as a defender,” Southgate said. “Because he’s got speed he’s confident enough to defend on the front foot and his use of the ball is improving all the time.”

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Sam Johnstone, Aaron Ramsdale Defenders: Conor Coady, Reece James, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker.

Midfielders: Phil Foden, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice.

Forwards: Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Ollie Watkins.

- Guardian

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