England boss Gareth Southgate has confirmed that the players who missed out on his 26-man Euro 2020 squad, such as Jesse Lingard – will still play a part in warm-up games.
Southgate announced his final list of players for the delayed tournament on Tuesday. Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold was the headline inclusion, after debate over whether he would make it. However, Southgate has still decided to pick four right-backs, including Chelsea’s Reece James.
Meanwhile, Reds captain Jordan Henderson is in the squad after recovering from a groin problem.
Manchester United’s Harry Maguire is also in, as he looks to return from an ankle injury.
Speaking at a press conference following the announcement (via BBC Sport), Southgate said: “The most complex part has been those injuries and whether we should take the chance on people – players like Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire not being quite where they normally are.
“With the experience that they have, we think we can get them to a point where they have an involvement in the tournament and it’s worth taking them – especially as we have an extended squad of 26.”
As for who dropped out, Jesse Lingard was perhaps the headline exclusion. The West Ham midfielder regained his place in the squad for the March internationals after stellar form, before finishing the season strongly.
Southgate added: “I think every squad [selection] is difficult because we have a lot of talented players in this country.
“The most difficult thing [this time] is not being able to take players who have been with us in previous matches and are such good professionals so I know what a disappointment it is for them, at the moment, not to be going to a major championship.
“We still have two friendlies and there have been plenty of examples over the years where there have been injuries that have ruled people out so there’s still time for those guys, even though they’re not in at this moment in time.”
England play Austria on Wednesday before facing Romania on Sunday as they finalise their preparations.
Southgate admitted that it was “very difficult” to speak to Lingard, but revealed he could start against Austria. James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins also dropped out.
Southgate reveals Lingard, England call
“Those three, I gave them the option of going home, but they were all adamant they wanted to stay and be a part of the group. I think Jesse will probably start tomorrow,” he said.
“Their commitment and professionalism has been exemplary and it meant yesterday afternoon when I had the conversation with those players, although they were disappointed, they knew where they stood and the atmosphere around the camp has stayed positive.”
Nevertheless, Southgate received criticism from pundits on Sky Sports News‘ coverage of the squad announcement.
Darren Bent said: “Gareth’s causing his own problems there because if Lingard plays tomorrow and does really well, scores two, there’s going to be an outcry of ‘why’s he not in the squad?’
“Surely Gareth wants to use these games to get ready for the tournament. There’s going to be players there like Raheem Sterling, who’s not played that many minutes.
“But you want to concentrate on the 26-man squad, get a few minutes into the players who need the minutes, a different system, maybe try players in different roles.”
England got to the semi-finals of their last major tournament, the World Cup in 2018.