Gareth Southgate includes Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal stars in England squad
Gareth Southgate has selected Manchester United captain Harry Maguire in his final pre-World Cup England squad and called up Brentford striker Ivan Toney for the first time.
Southgate named a 28-man squad for England’s upcoming games against Italy and Germany.
The Three Lions face Italy away on Friday September 23, before hosting Germany on Monday September 26.
This is the last international break before Southgate picks his squad for the first winter World Cup in Qatar, which starts on November 20.
Despite being dropped by new Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, Maguire retains his place in the England squad.
Red Devils defender Luke Shaw has also been picked but neither Jadon Sancho or Marcus Rashford are in the squad, with the latter currently struggling with an injury.
Partly due to Rashford absence, Southgate has decided to hand a maiden call-up to Brentford’s Toney, who has scored 17 Premier League goals and registered six assists in 39 appearances for the Bees since the start of last season.
England No. 1 Jordan Pickford also misses out through injury, leaving Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope and Dean Henderson as Southgate’s options in goal.
Maguire is joined in the squad by fellow defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Reece James and Kyle Walker, while there is a recall for Tottenham’s Eric Dier.
Only five midfielders – Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and James Ward-Prowse – have been selected.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is nursing a hamstring problem while Southgate has overlooked his Anfield team-mate Harvey Elliott and Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher.
Harry Kane could surpass Wayne Rooney as England’s record goal-scorer during the upcoming international break and is one of eight forwards picked in the squad, alongside the likes of Tammy Abraham, Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka.
‘We recognise the country is still in a period of mourning and my thoughts remain with the Royal Family,’ said England boss Southgate.
‘While it is important to explain some of our decisions around selection, we didn’t feel it appropriate to hold a full press conference, when it might divert attention from where people’s minds should be at this time.
‘This is a bigger than normal squad and part of the rationale is that we are very close to a World Cup and we feel, although our results were disappointing in the summer, we have picked on the basis of form and capability over a long period.
‘There were certain players we wanted to keep involved this time, but that said it doesn’t mean that this is the end for some of the others who aren’t involved.
‘Clearly, we have a number of players including Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips who are not playing a lot of minutes with their club.
‘It is not ideal, but we feel they have been, and can be, important players for us. It is not a perfect situation but there is still a lot of football to be played before Qatar.
‘With Eric Dier, he has been playing well for a period of time. We think it is a really close call across our centre-backs and he has deserved to be picked back in the group.
‘We know what a good character he is. He fits in with the culture and has great international experience and leadership qualities.
‘With Ivan Toney, we have been tracking him for a long time. I had a good chat with Thomas Frank about him last season.
‘His form and his qualities – not only his goal-scoring but his technical ability, build-up play and aerial prowess – gives us a different threat to some of the other players we could pick.
England have not won the World Cup since 1966 but have impressed in recent major tournaments, reaching the Euro 2020 final and the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
During the last international break – back in June – England suffered two shock Nations League defeats to Hungary and drew to both Germany and Italy.
England begin their World Cup campaign on November 21 against Iran, before facing USA and Wales as they look to qualify for the knockout stages from Group B.
Southgate added: ‘Reflecting on the last couple of months, clearly as an international manger you don’t have any games to quickly put the disappointment behind you.
‘We have had a long period to reflect but now we are really looking forward to two high-quality matches that will be a great test for us and a crucial part of our preparation for the World Cup. It is only eight weeks until we will be naming our squad for Qatar so every minute counts.’
MORE : Former Arsenal chief David Dein reveals his biggest transfer regret
MORE : Aubameyang reveals how Thomas Tuchel reacted to Chelsea sacking
For more stories like this, check our sport page.
Follow Metro Sport for the latest news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.