Midfielders Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice train indoors as England take to the field for the first time ahead of their Nations League double.
Henderson linked up with the team on Monday night having been drafted to replace injured Kalvin Phillips and was one of three players who did not train with the team on Tuesday morning.
Newcastle full-back Kieran Trippier was also not in the main group and did not join the team until the end of the day due to personal reasons.
The first time Ivan Toney trained alongside Gareth Southgate and 23 other senior players, the Brentford forward received his first call last week.
England’s next two matches…
- Friday 23: Italy (A) – starts at 7.45pm
- Monday, September 26: Germany (H) – starts at 7.45pm
England will face Italy in Milan on Friday night, knowing defeat will send them relegated to the Nations League B League having lost two and drawn two of their Group A3 matches so far.
At the start of a busy international week, crucial to Southgate’s World Cup plans, Sky Sports News senior reporter Rob Dorsett was at England’s St George’s Park training ground to reflect on the points worth mentioning.
Southgate’s midfield options
“He has some concerns. Southgate never names too many midfielders. With Kalvin Phillips pulling out with a shoulder injury, that leaves Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice as three of the midfielders. the core of the British team.
“Southgate doesn’t have too many options in midfield and Bellingham is probably the best team. He’s made 10 appearances this season for Borussia Dortmund and is truly impressive – more than any other. any other English midfielder.
“He’s also scored three goals and is a regular in the Bundesliga and Champions League. The point is, with two big games coming up against Italy and Germany, against better opponents, Southgate prefers to play two midfield players.
“With Phillips missing and Henderson racing to get fit, that could be an issue. Declan Rice – if he’s fit – is a shooter, but who will he play with? Could it be Bellingham?It would be a big opportunity for the youngster.
“He was only 19 years old three months ago so Southgate has some considerations to make. He’s been unlucky with midfield options.
“The fact that Henderson has appeared means that Southgate and his medical team believe he can play some part in the next two games against Italy and Germany. That will be a big boost. “
How big is the opportunity this week for Toney?
“Ivan Toney is the first Brentford player to be called up to the England squad since 1939.
“It’s a big opportunity for Toney and it’s a big story. He’s never been to England, so all of this is very new to him. It’s the first time he’s been in England. training in St George’s Park, and that’s with the rest of the senior squad alongside Harry Kane.
“When you look at the path he’s gone – it’s an extraordinary story. He’s played for Northampton Town, Barnsley, Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe and Wigan. Just two years ago he was playing for Peterborough in the League. One.
“But we shouldn’t patronize him. Although it’s a great story, he totally deserves this England call-up. He’s been in fantastic form for Brentford. He’s been in great form. scored 13 goals in the calendar year – only Kane has scored more than him among the 2022 Premier League-winning England strikers.
“He’s a striker with a starting ability that England don’t have much at the moment. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Patrick Bamford, Ollie Watkins and Callum Wilson are all out of the picture.
“Hopefully he’ll make his debut. I don’t think there’s any point in calling him into the team if he doesn’t get any game time against Italy or Germany.
With the record in his sights, is Kane expected to play both games?
“I would be surprised if he didn’t start both. Don’t forget that Southgate is under a bit of pressure. Last time England played, they lost 4-0 at home to Hungary.
“These are the last two games England play before the World Cup and they are facing two of the best teams in the world – Italy and Germany. That’s what you get in the Nations League.
“Southgate will try to put his best team on the pitch at the San Siro on Friday night. Kane scored 50 goals – just three behind Wayne Rooney – and he went out and said he wanted to beat the record. That was before the World Cup.
“Kane should start, but I expect to see Toney come on from the bench if England are in control or really, if they need a goal and need to refresh things.”
Is Maguire’s lack of fitness a problem?
“I feel the absence of Harry Maguire on a regular basis and the central defender situation is the biggest problem Southgate has had.
“The ongoing debate among supporters is there is all to see. Maguire is a formidable figure and has excelled for England. If you were to choose purely about England’s form, Maguire is the first name on the squad list.
“He was a big part of England’s success in Russia during the last World Cup and at the Euros – but he doesn’t play for Manchester United.
“Since he was dropped by Erik ten Hag, United have had a resurgence without him. What does that do for his confidence?
Full England 28-man squad to face Italy and Germany
Goalie: Dean Henderson, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale.
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker.
Midfielder: Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse.
Striker: Tammy Abraham, Jarrod Bowen, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Ivan Toney.
“When you compare that to Eric Dier, it’s the first time we’ve seen him in the England team in almost two years – November 2020 was his last.
“Spurs fans have been saying he should be back in the England team for quite some time. He’s here on merit and he’s probably England’s best centre-back right now.
“But he plays in a rather specialized role – in the heart of a three-back. If England don’t play three defenders, will Dier get on? That’s a debate we’ll know. more in the coming days
“Dier is playing and performing while Maguire is not, but he has never let England down. It’s a problematic position.”
The battle to be England’s left-back
“The truth is that Southgate has had to break his own rules. He’s always said you need to play and play well, and both Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw are in the same boat.
“Shaw was an important part of England’s squad at Euro 2020 but he did not play for Manchester United. He lost his place to Tyrell Malacia, who looked comfortable and was placed in that position under Ten Hag. .
“Chilwell played a bit more when he started in the Champions League against Dinamo Zagreb but he was sent off after 70 minutes. Graham Potter is now at Chelsea, and of course he has worked with Marc Cucurella in Brighton, so you wonder if Chilwell isn’t set to get more game time Trippier can also play at left-back.
Who will be the pursuers of Pickford?
“Dean Henderson has been recalled to have played regularly for Nottingham Forest this season after his struggles at Manchester United. It’s a big opportunity for him, Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale.
“It’s an important question who will substitute Jordan Pickford. Maybe Southgate is mixed, giving them game time. I doubt it. There’s not much time left before Southgate fills in his name. in my World Cup squad but I’d say Pope is just ahead of the other two.
“He’s made eight more appearances than three for Ramsdale and one for Henderson. If Pope starts against Italy, I think it’s a good sign that Southgate considers him No. 2. naturally after Pickford.”
England’s World Cup Group B fixtures
November 21: Iran (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick off 1pm
November 25: USA (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor) – kick off at 7pm
November 29: Wales (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick off at 7pm
Gareth Southgate has announced his final squad ahead of the World Cup – but who will be your starting line-up?
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