LONDON: Eberechi Eze received his first call-up and Lewis Dunk returned four-and-a-half years after his only cap as Gareth Southgate named the England squad for June’s Euro 2024 qualifiers.
Having kicked off Euro 2024 qualification with wins over Italy and Ukraine, Group C continues with next month’s double header against Malta and North Macedonia.
Southgate has named a 25-man squad, with Eric Dier and Raheem Sterling the high-profile absentees and Crystal Palace attacking midfielder Eze the only uncapped player in the group.
Brighton captain Dunk returned for the first time since making his debut against the United States in November 2018.
Callum Wilson, Tyrone Mings, Sam Johnstone and Trent Alexander-Arnold also returned to the fold.
Sterling, who has won 82 caps, has endured a difficult first season since joining Chelsea from Manchester City.
Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone, Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale.
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Lewis Dunk, Marc Guehi, Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Eberechi Eze, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice.
Forwards: Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Callum Wilson
A representative for the forward said: “Following a private conversation between coach and player, a mutual decision has been made for Raheem Sterling to sit out the upcoming internationals, focusing instead on recuperating his body in preparation for the upcoming season.”
Southgate revealed Sterling’s absence was largely down to fitness issues rather than form.
The England manager said at a press conference: “I spoke with him a week or so ago – a general catch-up.
“He’s not happy physically with his condition, having been carrying a hamstring problem. He really wasn’t in consideration.
“We didn’t get to the point of whether he should be in or out. He doesn’t think he is operating at the level he needs.”
Southgate said he was looking forward to working with Eze.
He said: “We have liked him for a long time. I think he has finished the season really strongly. He can play in a couple of positions across the attacking line.
“He is a goal threat, he’s got nice ability and speed to go past people and can take people out of the game with his dribbling skills. We are looking forward to seeing him a bit closer.”
Southgate had no qualms about naming a strong squad when there might have been a temptation to allow some of his senior stars to have a rest.
He said: “We have played North Macedonia twice at home and never beaten them. To be a top team, if we want to be European champions, we have got to nail big games – like we did in March – and make sure we nail the complicated ones.
“It is a good test of commitment and togetherness. This group don’t want to let each other down. We want to keep progressing as a team.”