England squad for EURO 2024 qualifiers announced; Eze gets maiden call-up, Sterling out

Gareth Southgate announced the England squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers of 2024, on Wednesday.

Published : May 24, 2023 18:49 IST , Chennai - 3 MINS READ

Gareth Southgate’s England will play Malta on June 16 and North Macedonia three days later.
Gareth Southgate’s England will play Malta on June 16 and North Macedonia three days later. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Gareth Southgate’s England will play Malta on June 16 and North Macedonia three days later. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

In-form Crystal Palace midfielder Eberechi Eze earned his first senior call-up for England as coach Gareth Southgate named his squad for next month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old was the only uncapped player in the 25-man selection for the two games in Group C, away to Malta and at home to North Macedonia.

There was also a call-up for Brighton & Hove Albion defender Lewis Dunk whose one England cap came in 2018 and a recall for Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings.

But there was no place for the second squad in succession for Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling.

England are top of Group C after winning away in Italy and then at home to Ukraine.

Former Queens Park Rangers player Eze has been in startling form for Palace, scoring six goals in his last eight games and Southgate said he would have been in his previous squad but for an injury setback.

“We have liked him for a long time,” Southgate told a press conference. “He has finished the season really strongly and plays in a couple of positions across the attacking line and has a burst of speed to go past people and take people out of the game with his dribbling skills.”

Southgate said Dunk and Mings had both earned their calls after strong showing for their clubs, both of whom have finished the season in style with Brighton qualifying for Europe and Villa likely to join them.

Explaining the absence of 82-cap forward Sterling, Southgate said it had been an easy decision.

“I spoke with him a week or so ago. A general catch-up. He is not happy with his condition physically, carrying a hamstring problem. He wasn’t really in consideration because he doesn’t think he is operating at the level he needs,” the coach said.

Southgate also had some words of comfort for Brentford forward Ivan Toney who made his debut as a substitute against Ukraine but has since been banned for eight months after more than 100 breaches of the FA’s betting rules.

“When he comes back, if he plays well, then we’ll pick him,” Southgate said. “I think he’ll have additional motivation through what he’s experiencing and he’s a resilient guy with great character and we are here to support him.”

Southgate said he had not considered resting a few of his senior players for what look like two comfortable fixtures. Five Manchester City players in the squad will be playing in the Champions League final days before the Malta game on June 16.

“I don’t think the rest of the world will be (resting players) and we’ve played North Macedonia at home twice and never beaten them,” Southgate said.

“I think we could easily fall into the trap -- to be a top team, to be European champions we need to nail the fixtures, like we did in March.”

Full England squad:
Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Lewis Dunk (Brighton & Hove Albion), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham United)
Forwards: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), James Maddison (Leicester City), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Callum Wilson (Newcastle United)
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