Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Emile Smith Rowe was ‘close’ to earning a maiden call-up to the England squad for October’s World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary, while explained the absence of Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood.
Smith Rowe was linked with a potential inclusion in the England squad following a fine start to the season with Arsenal, the midfielder having been a shining light in the Gunners’ poor start and subsequent turnaround under Mikel Arteta.
The 21-year-old scored one and provided another as Arsenal thrashed Tottenham 3-1 on Sunday, a performance which left Southgate impressed at the Emirates.
The England manager confirmed the midfielder is a player the Three Lions are continuing to monitor and says Smith Rowe came close to earning inclusion in the senior squad for next month’s qualifiers.
“He is a player we like a lot and was very close to making this squad,’ Southgate told a press conference after naming his squad.
“At this moment in time I don’t want to bring in any more younger players out of the Under-21s. They have got to earn that right over a longer period.
“I thought his performance against Tottenham was very good, we know how he finished last season as well. I can only say he is a player we really like and he was close.”
Speaking about the absence of Mason Greenwood – who hasn’t featured since his indiscretion on international duty last September – and Jude Bellingham from his squad, Southgate said he was keen to be ‘really careful’ with the development of the two teenagers
“They’re both in similar situations, they are young players with heavy workloads at the moment,” Southgate said.
“I’ve spoken to both of them. Jude at the moment is playing a high level of matches with Champions League games, league games. As an 18-year-old he had a full season last season and then into the Euros with no break.
“We have to remember these lads are still physically growing, so when we talk about young player development we have to be really careful in how we handle them.
“These are two players we think can be really exciting for England’s future. We don’t want to overload them, we want to make sure we are making the right decisions with them.”
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