England boss Gareth Southgate has explained some of the big decisions in his squad announcement ahead this month’s games against Australia and Italy.
Bukayo Saka was one of the 26 men named in the squad for the upcoming international break despite nursing an injury. The Arsenal winger limped off the pitch in the first half of the Gunners’ Champions League defeat to RC Lens.
Southgate said that the situation with Saka will be monitored ahead of the team linking up next week. “He’s still being assessed as they’ve obviously got a big game this weekend and then there’s another seven days before we play Australia and 10 days before we play Italy so everybody will monitor everything as we go forward,” he explained.
Chelsea wide forward Raheem Sterling, who won the last of his 82 caps at the 2022 Fifa World Cup, was left out of the England squad again. Jarrod Bowen, who plays in a similar position, has been called up instead of the 28-year-old after scoring five goals in seven Premier League games for West Ham.
“We spoke before the last squad and we’ve been happy with the wide players’ performances in the last four games in particular and in the two in March. The team are playing really well and clearly there’s some stability there,” Southgate reasoned.
“We have added Jarrod Bowen in those wide areas, he’s scored five in seven games and is playing really well and with the Australia game as well there’s the opportunity to learn some different things as well.”
Callum Wilson, who missed Newcastle United‘s win over PSG on Wednesday, is sidelined by a minor hamstring issue. Southgate has called up Ollie Watkins in his place after the Aston Villa striker scored his second hat-trick of the season during the 6-1 win over Brighton at the weekend.
“Callum Wilson is carrying an injury and we were not certain he would be available,” the Three Lions manager said.
“Ollie has started the season well – he’s hit a bit of scoring form in the last couple of weeks. You have to be careful with that because you can’t just go on recency bias with selection.
“But he is in good form and obviously coming in on a high and he’s been with us before so we know his character, his personality – he is a good guy around the group.”
England will take on Australia in a friendly at Wembley on Friday, October 13, before facing Italy in a Euro 2024 qualifier at the same venue.