• April 16, 2024
  • Last Update April 16, 2024 4:29 PM
  • Nairobi

Palmer, Toney highlight England squad for Brazil, Belgium frindlies

By Peter Ochieng

England manager Gareth Southgate has named a strong 25-man squad expected to feature in upcoming friendlies against Belgium and Brazil.

The highlight is the return of Brentford striker Ivan Toney. He has been recalled after making a comeback from an 8-month ban for breaching gambling rules.

Cole Palmer who joined Chelsea in search of game time from Manchester City at the start of the season, Newcastle United’s Anthony Gordon and West Ham United’s Jarrod Bowen have also made the cut, as Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite also earns a first senior international call-up.

Westham United midfielder Kalvin Philips who joined the Hammers from Manchester City misses out due to lack of match fitness, while City’s Jack Grealish fails to make the cut due to an injury.

Defenders Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United) and Reece James (Chelsea) will also not be part of the Three Lion’s squad for the friendlies, due to injuries.

While unveiling the squad at a news conference, the manager spoke about his decision to drop Phillips.

“I think he knows exactly what we think of him. A good version of him is an important player for us. We don’t have many players of that profile,” said Southgate, as quoted by Goal.com.

“Unfortunately, his form just hasn’t been good enough. I’ve spoken to him, he knows that. I said to him towards the end of last year, if he didn’t play at City, it was going to be a problem.”

On the decision to hand Jarrad Branthwaite his first call up, he said:

“He’s played consistently well. We watched him as a back-up centre-half for the under-21s. If you said a year ago he would consistently play in the Premier League, I would have been surprised. Credit to Sean Dyche. He’s in on merit. We’re looking forward to having a look at him.”

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone, Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale

Defenders: Jarrad Branthwaite, Ben Chilwell, Lewis Dunk, Joe Gomez, Ezri Konsa, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Kyle Walker

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison, Declan Rice

Forwards: Jarrod Bowen, Phil Foden, Anthony Gordon, Harry Kane, Cole Palmer, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney, Ollie Watkins

England will play against Brazil at Wembley on Saturday, March 23, brfore hosting Belgium at the same venue three days later.

The latest call up is the last chance for players to secure a place on the plane for Euro 2024, to be hosted by Germany in the summer.

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