Gomez, Butland, Toney set for England recalls

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Gomez, Butland, Toney set for England recalls

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez is set to be named in the England squad for the first time in four years, with Rangers goalkeeper Jack Butland, who hasn’t played for England for more than five years, expected to be included too.

Brentford’s Ivan Toney is also likely to be recalled when Gareth Southgate names his squad on Thursday for the upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley.

That will be Toney’s first involvement with the national team since his eight-month ban from football for breaching The Football Association’s betting rules.

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Ivan Toney makes his long-awaited return for Brentford following his ban for breaching the FA’s betting rules

Cole Palmer’s tremendous form for Chelsea means he is pushing hard for a forward’s place in the most competitive position in the England squad.

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Mark McAdam explains how Cole Palmer is on par with Jude Bellingham for U21 players with most assists and goals across Europe

Southgate will name his long list for this summer’s Euros in less than 10 weeks’ time, and he is currently in the midst of his worst injury crisis since he took the top job in 2016. As a result, expect the England manager to name a bigger-than-usual squad again.

Twelve players are missing in total, though the England boss is likely to include Harry Maguire in this squad, despite his muscle problem. Maguire may return to action for Manchester United this weekend and Southgate is closely monitoring Levi Colwill’s toe problem too.

For most of his reign, Southgate has had an embarrassment of riches at full-back. Not any more. Four first-choice full-backs in Reece James, Luke Shaw, Kieran Trippier and Ben Chilwell are all injured. That’s why Gomez’s versatility has made him a must-pick for Southgate.

Joe Gomez playing for England in 2020 vs Wales

Image: Joe Gomez last played for England in 2020 vs Wales

The 26-year-old has been outstanding in his 39 appearances for Liverpool this season, across four different positions – centre-back, central midfield, right-back and left-back. His last game for England was in the 3-0 friendly win over Wales in November 2020.

Butland’s previous England involvement was even further back, after the Russia World Cup, in September 2018. But with Newcastle’s Nick Pope injured and Aaron Ramsdale a distinct second choice to David Raya at Arsenal, Butland’s impressive Rangers form means he’s almost certain to be recalled by Southgate.

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Paul Merson discuss Gareth Southgate’s tough decision ahead as he picks his potential England candidates ahead of EURO 2024

Brighton’s Lewis Dunk and Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa should keep their places in central defence, but depending on the injury outlook, there could be a surprise recall for Bayern Munich’s Eric Dier, or even a first senior call-up for Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite.

The 21-year-old has played 31 times for Everton this season and he can also play right-back, which will appeal to Southgate. It may well be that Southgate leaves him with the U21s at first, with the prospect of him being promoted to the senior squad if the injury problems elsewhere don’t improve.

The best English right-back right now is Ben White, but he hasn’t been involved with England since leaving the national camp during the World Cup in Qatar. If he isn’t involved this time, his absence will require further explanation.

Tino Livramento has impressed in his role as understudy to Trippier at Newcastle – he may yet be asked to fulfil a similar role with England, if Southgate feels he needs more cover at right-back.

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Jack Grealish’s hip injury means Palmer – who was pushing for an England place anyway – is even more likely to be included. The Chelsea forward had 25 goal involvements in all competitions this season, and is red hot right now after a goal and an assist in Monday night’s win over Newcastle.

Tottenham’s James Maddison can expect he’ll get the nod to join up again after an ankle injury forced him to withdraw from the last camp in November.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Chelsea’s Cole Palmer-inspired win over Newcastle on Monday night

Villa’s Ollie Watkins is a guaranteed call-up with his 22 goals this season.

Jordan Henderson’s renaissance at Ajax is likely to see him retain his England place, but there are serious question marks over fellow midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

Southgate has been an outspoken advocate of Phillips and kept picking him for England even when he was a long way from selection for Manchester City.

His loan move to West Ham was welcomed by Southgate, who expected him to get much more game time – however, his substitution at half-time against Burnley at the weekend, along with David Moyes’ withering assessment of his performance, leaves the England manager with a real headache.

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David Moyes says that Kalvin Phillips will improve the more game time he gets, and hopes that he can get back to the level he was at with Leeds United

Despite their good form for their clubs, Luton Town’s Ross Barkley and AC Milan’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek are unlikely to make Southgate’s list.

Southgate deliberately picked the highest possible calibre of opponent for these friendlies, with a plan to hone his strongest XI in the sternest of international tests, but because of the crippling injury problems, those plans are now in tatters.

The games will, however, give the England boss the chance to test the depth in his extended squad; trying to whittle the numbers down to 23 is a problem Southgate will have to address when he names his Euros squad in May.

ENGLAND’S INJURED 12:
Pope, Trippier, Shaw, Chilwell, James, Maguire, Guehi, Colwill, Mings, Alexander-Arnold, Grealish, Wilson

Mainoo set for U21 debut call

Manchester United’s young star Kobbie Mainoo is unlikely to be given a first senior call-up by Southgate this week, but there are plans for him to be promoted to England’s U21s for the first time, as the FA look to fast-track the midfielder into the men’s first team.

The 18-year-old has been a stand-out performer in a breakthrough season at Old Trafford. He has already made 20 first-team appearances under Erik Ten Hag.

Mainoo has represented England at U17s, U18s and U19s level but he is eligible to switch his allegiance to Ghana, where his parents were born.

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Sky Sports’ James Savundra, Peter Smith, and Nick Wright pick their England XIs for the opening game against Serbia at Euro 2024.

The Ghana FA said last month that they are looking to try to convince Mainoo to represent them at international level.

Southgate has always made it clear that he, and the English FA, won’t pressure young players with dual-nationality into making a premature decision.

However, once Mainoo is with England’s U21s at St George’s Park, it is a small step for him to be drafted in to train with the senior squad. That is a policy Southgate has used many times, to give younger players a taste of elite-level football, and make the transition easier.

It’s thought Southgate considers it too early for Mainoo to be given a full England call-up, but if further injuries strike his squad before the friendlies against Belgium and Brazil in the next fortnight, Mainoo and some other U21 players could find themselves promoted.

England U21s are due to play Azerbaijan and Luxembourg in Euro qualifiers during the next international break, beginning next week.

Euro 2024 key dates

Remaining qualifying dates
March 21, 2024: play-off semi-finals
March 26, 2024: play-off finals

Final tournament
June 14, 2024: Euro 2024 opening game, Munich Football Arena (Allianz Arena)
June 30 – July 2: Round of 16
July 5-6: Quarter-finals
July 9-10, 2024: Semi-finals
July 14, 2024: Euro 2024 final, Olympiastadion Berlin

England’s Euro 2024 fixtures

Sunday June 16 – Group C: Serbia vs England (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen – kick-off 8pm UK time)

Thursday June 20 – Group C: Denmark vs England (Waldstadion, Frankfurt – kick-off 5pm UK time)

Tuesday June 25 – Group C: England vs Slovenia (RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne – kick-off 8pm UK time)

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