Toney earns England call-up; TAA, Sterling & White miss out
Ivan Toney has been handed a call-up by England but Raheem Sterling, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ben White have all been left out of the squad for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine.
Brentford striker Toney – who has not been capped by England – is the third top scorer in the Premier League with 16 goals, although he could face a lengthy ban in the near future for alleged breaches of the FA’s gambling rules.
But Gareth Southgate said there was no basis on which not to pick the striker, saying: “The fact is that Ivan is available for his club. There hasn’t been a trial or any judgement as yet so I don’t know on what basis we wouldn’t pick him.
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England’s March fixtures
- Italy (A) – Euro 2024 qualifier, Thursday March 23, kick-off 7.45pm
- Ukraine (H) – Euro 2024 qualifier, Sunday March 26, kick-off 5pm
“He’s playing really well. I like his presence in games and he deserves his opportunity.”
Sterling – who missed Chelsea’s win over Leicester last weekend – featured in three of England’s five matches at the World Cup in December but was not involved in the last-16 win over Senegal after flying home following a break-in at his home.
Southgate confirmed the forward is currently unavailable, saying: “Sterling’s not fit. We would have selected him had he been available.”
Alexander-Arnold drops out of the squad after making just one substitute appearance in Qatar, while he is struggling for form at Liverpool.
White’s absence comes after he left England’s World Cup camp early for unexplained circumstances. Unlike Sterling, he did not rejoin his team-mates in Qatar.
“With White, it’s similar to Alexander-Arnold really,” explained Southgate. “The three boys who are in as right full-backs, we’ve got them just ahead of those two. We’re blessed in that position with the depth of talent.
“Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier were the ones who played at the World Cup and Reece James coming back is another top player. We’d love to have that depth in every position on the field, really.”
Callum Wilson, who went to the World Cup but has scored just once for Newcastle since October, and Conor Coady, who was an unused substitute at the World Cup and has lost his place in the Everton side under Sean Dyche, are the other omissions from Southgate’s most recent squad.
Alongside Toney, the manager has recalled Ben Chilwell, who has not played for England since November 2021 but is once again playing regularly for Chelsea after a series of injuries.
Chilwell’s Blues team-mate James returns to the fold after missing the World Cup through injury, while Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi receives his first call-up since September.
Southgate has included Harry Maguire in his squad, despite the Manchester United captain struggling for minutes at his club, while Kalvin Phillips – who has not started a Premier League game for Manchester City since his summer move – has also been retained.
Phillips’ fellow City player Walker is in the squad even though it emerged this month that police are investigating allegations the defender exposed himself in a bar.
“It’s a complicated situation,” said Southgate. “I’ve spoken at length with him. The fact is, at the moment, he’s back playing with his club and there’s no conclusive evidence to leave him out at this stage.
Who’s in? Who’s out?
Players called up who were not in World Cup squad: Ivan Toney, Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Marc Guehi
Players left out who were in World Cup squad: Raheem Sterling, Ben White, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Callum Wilson, Conor Coady
“I’ve got to be careful about being the moral judge on things. We feel we want him with us – that’s the right thing to do – and we also know that when you’re an England international there’s an even higher bar on how you conduct yourselves and what’s expected.
“I don’t think we’re taking these decisions lightly.”
Mason Mount’s struggles at Chelsea have not prevented him from keeping his England place. The midfielder has struggled for form and fitness in recent weeks amid a reported contract impasse with the club, while he also lost his place in Southgate’s XI in Qatar.
However, Mount is in the 25-man squad, alongside fellow Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher, who did not make it onto the pitch at the World Cup and is also not in Graham Potter’s regular line-up at Stamford Bridge.
James Maddison also keeps his place in the England squad despite failing to see any action at the World Cup, but there is no recall for Ollie Watkins, who has scored six goals in his last seven Aston Villa games.
James Ward-Prowse – the midfielder spearheading Southampton’s fight against relegation – is also left out, as is Jadon Sancho, who has begun to recapture his form at Manchester United but has not been called up by England since October 2021.
Solly March and Lewis Dunk, who are excelling at Brighton under Roberto De Zerbi, and Rico Lewis, who is enjoying a breakthrough year at Manchester City, also failed to make the cut.
England’s first matches since losing to France in the World Cup quarter-finals are in Naples against Italy on Thursday March 23 and at Wembley against Ukraine on Sunday March 26.
They mark the beginning of the qualification campaign for Euro 2024, which will be held in Germany. England are in Group C, which also includes North Macedonia and Malta.
England’s trip to Naples is a daunting one, given they have not won in Italy since 1961, while Roberto Mancini’s side beat Southgate’s team on penalties in the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley.
England’s 25-man squad
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale
Defenders: Ben Chilwell, Eric Dier, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice
Forwards: Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney