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Southgate finds no space for Sterling or Gordon in England squad

Gareth Southgate has opted not to call up Raheem Sterling, Anthony Gordon or Reece James for England’s final Euro 2024 qualifiers and has said the recalled Callum Wilson may have to drop out because of injury.

The 25-player squad for games against Malta and North Macedonia was notable at least as much for who did not make the cut. Sterling and Mason Mount again remain on the outside and, as expected, John Stones has missed out with an injury. Eddie Nketiah has not been included after being part of the last squad.

Quick Guide

England squad


Goalkeepers Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)

Defenders Levi Colwill (Chelsea), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Marc Guéhi (Crystal Palace), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Fikayo Tomori (Milan), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Al-Ettifaq), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (Arsenal)

Forwards Jarrod Bowen (West Ham) Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), James Maddison (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa), Callum Wilson (Newcastle)

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Southgate said he had been minded to include James but the full-back did not feel ready to join up after recently returning from injury for Chelsea. The manager said he understood James’s caution. Bukayo Saka and James Maddison have been called up despite injury issues and checks will also have to be made on Jude Bellingham. Southgate described Wilson as the biggest fitness doubt and said: “I am pretty confident the others can get through.”

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Southgate said the door was “100% open” for Sterling and other players not in the squad but that it was difficult to drop squad members who had performed well in recent matches.

“We don’t need to know about his quality, his personality,” he said of Sterling. “He is a crucial part of why we’ve had the journey we’ve had over the last few years. I can only repeat what I have said in the meetings, we’re playing exceptionally well and who can I leave out?”

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England face Malta at Wembley next Friday before playing away to North Macedonia three days later. Southgate’s team have qualified for next summer’s tournament in Germany but victories would guarantee a place among the first seeds when the draw is held on 2 December.