Gareth Southgate has resisted the urge to make significant changes to his England team ahead of the Euro 2024 qualifiers against North Macedonia and Malta, but the addition of Eberechi Eze from Crystal Palace brings a new perspective.
Both contests will feature England as overwhelming favorites, so it would have been reasonable for Southgate to rest some of his team’s top players after a demanding season that includes the World Cup in Qatar before Christmas.
Instead, Southgate’s squad has a recognizable look as England gets ready for their trip to Malta and their match against North Macedonia at Old Trafford. This comes after they began their quest to qualify for the Euros in Germany next summer by defeating Italy and the Ukraine at home.
The most notable development is Eze’s first call-up to the senior team, which is a well-deserved reward for the 24-year-old who has thrived at Crystal Palace under Roy Hodgson, one of Southgate’s England predecessors, where he has six goals in his past eight appearances.
He also demonstrated tenacity and perseverance in overcoming a catastrophic Achilles tendon injury that required a protracted layoff just when Southgate was beginning to take notice of him.
After a season in which he scored 10 goals and provided four assists in 39 appearances, Eze is back and has the opportunity to have a significant effect. He will be joined by his Palace teammate and defender Marc Guehi in the England squad.
Southgate selects the England team for the Euro qualifiers.
response to the selection of the England team
Raheem Sterling of Chelsea is replaced by Eze after the 28-year-old withdrew following conversations with Southgate after a first season at Stamford Bridge in which he struggled with injuries and overall performance.
Sterling’s position would have undoubtedly been in risk regardless, but now he can relax and get ready for the start of the following season so he can try to reclaim it before the Euros.
Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool, who is always a point of contention whenever Southgate selects an England team, is included, and it will be interesting to watch how he performs after Jurgen Klopp began to employ him in a more offensive role and pushed him forward at Anfield.
with a standout season at the club level, Lewis Dunk of Brighton, who earned one full cap against the USA in 2018, is back, and Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa, who saw his play improve with Unai Emery’s arrival as his club manager, is also back in the England team.
Despite Mings wearing the armband when Jack Grealish moved for Manchester City, it seemed that Emery’s predecessor at Villa Park, Steven Gerrard, did not fully trust him. Not only did he occasionally leave him out of the lineup, but he also gave John McGinn the position of club captain.
The importance of this England doubleheader had to be balanced against the physical demands placed on players this season, according to Southgate.
While Declan Rice, the captain of West Ham United, competes in the Europa Conference League final against Fiorentina in Prague three days earlier, the Manchester City quintet of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Kalvin Phillips, John Stones, and Kyle Walker compete in the Champions League final against Inter Milan in Istanbul on June 10 before joining up.
The England coach stated, “We are always conscious of the wellbeing of players and we have to give players time to recover but not physically decondition. We have significant qualification matches on the way to Germany, just like every other nation. The players always look forward to coming here, and we have chosen a great team. I believe we’ll handle it as best we can.
To those who have done him good, Southgate has remained devoted.
Harry Maguire, the captain of Manchester United, keeps his spot despite being clearly unnecessary for manager Erik ten Hag. Phillips, who joined Manchester City for £45 million from Leeds United last summer and has yet to play in the Premier League for City, also keeps his spot.