Two pundits have admitted their surprise at a Liverpool player being left out of Gareth Southgate’s 26-man England squad for the Qatar World Cup.
Southgate announced his selection on Thursday afternoon and it saw in-form Leicester star James Maddison make the cut. Callum Wilson, Ben White, Conor Gallagher and Marcus Rashford are also included.
Jadon Sancho, Ivan Toney, Fikayo Tomori, James Ward-Prowse and Jarrod Bowen are some of the players to have missed out.
Southgate’s squad sees him go with a combination of in-form stars and experienced players he trusts. Maddison and Wilson have looked razor sharp in recent weeks. In contrast, Harry Maguire has struggled for Manchester United this season and Kalvin Phillips is recovering from a shoulder injury – but the pair are both in the setup.
One player who was never really in the conversation is Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott. The right winger, who tends to play in midfield under Jurgen Klopp, has featured in every single one of Liverpool’s games this season.
Elliott is still only 19 years old but is proving himself to be a consistent performer for the Reds. And his versatility is helpful for Klopp, too.
Elliott has won five caps for England U21s but is yet to make his debut for the senior team. And despite him being a regular for Liverpool, Southgate did not include the former Fulham man in his World Cup squad.
talkSPORT host Adrian Durham and former England Lioness Lianne Sanderson have revealed their surprise at Elliott not even being in England contention.
Pundits shocked by Southgate decision on Liverpool ace
“Harvey Elliott – he never gets talked about [for England] and I can’t get my head around it,” Durham said.
“Those centre-mids, I had Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, I had James Ward-Prowse in my 26. I didn’t have Kalvin Phillips in and that was with a heavy heart because I’m a big fan.
“But when you go further forward and look at the attacking midfielders, I think some of them are no-brainers. Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish. I think James Maddison for sure, and I put Mason Mount in even though he’s having a horrible season with Chelsea.
“But I’ve also got Elliott in my squad. I think he’s been excellent for Liverpool and not just in the Premier League, in the Champions League as well.”
Sanderson labelled Elliott ‘excellent’ and claimed Southgate doesn’t know how to handle ‘flair players’.
“Absolutely. I would have Harvey Elliott in my squad. I think he’s in-form, he’s done so well for Liverpool and he’s got that flair,” the pundit said.
“England miss those flair-type players. We almost don’t know how to handle players like that.
England manager ‘cannot handle flair players’
“We remember the likes of Joe Cole, Glenn Hoddle, Paul Gascoigne. Even now with Jack Grealish, they all have something different.
“I don’t think Gareth Southgate knows how to handle players like that, and it’s been like that at England for years.
“It’s a big shame Harvey Elliott hasn’t been picked. But it’s the fact he’s not really even in the question, he’s not really been in the running for it.
“I know how everyone has been saying James Maddison had to be in there – but why not Elliott too? He’s been excellent.”
Durham and Sanderson are right about Elliott impressing with Liverpool this term. However, the World Cup has simply come too soon for him to enter Southgate’s thinking.
Elliott is highly likely to get his first senior cap in 2023, following a few more months of being in the Liverpool starting eleven. Perhaps he will get his big tournament opportunity at the 2024 European Championship in Germany.
While this seems like a long way off, Elliott will still only be 21 years of age when that tournament starts.