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Southgate discusses England selection ahead of Italy and Ukraine fixtures

Gareth Southgate has discussed his England selection after naming his squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers with Italy and Ukraine this month.

England begin their qualification campaign for the European Championship later this month, travelling to face Italy on March 23, before hosting Ukraine at Wembley three days later.


Southgate has named his first England squad since the Three Lions’ quarter-final exit at the World Cup last winter and there is no room for several squad members from Qatar, including Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, Newcastle’s Callum Wilson and Arsenal’s Ben White.

Southgate discussed the absences of Alexander-Arnold and White in particular and said he is keen not take players unlikely to feature, given England’s depth of options at right-back.

“This is a time in the season when you don’t want to carry too many if they’re not going to play because they can have a break and re-energise,” he told a press conference.

“We always give clarity to those that have missed out.”

Harry Maguire has been included in the squad despite a lack of football at Manchester United this season and Southgate admits he must find a ‘balance’ between those in form and England’s best options.

“We’ve got to pick our best players where possible and there’s a balance. Do you go with a level of player who’s physically fit but not doing well and being selected? You have to pick your best players as long as they can get to a reasonable physical level.

“We’re shorter than other nations in depth of selection but I’m happy.”

Southgate was asked on his omission of Brighton pair Solly March and Lewis Dunk. The duo have been in impressive form for the high-flying Seagulls this season and Southgate admits there were ‘hard calls’ when selecting his squad.

“They are playing very well. The coach has the team playing in a unique style in our league.

“Solly is a player we know well but at the moment I don’t see him ahead of Rashford, Grealish, Saka in those positions on the field. They are hard calls.

“We’re always watching everybody and there is not a game we miss. We know there are some players playing well but I have to pick the team I think gives us the best chance of winning in two big matches coming up.

“You have to get the experience right for those types of games as well.”

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