Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe ‘very close’ to England squad, says Gareth Southgate: ‘He’s a player we like’

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·3-min read
Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe ‘very close’ to England squad, says Gareth Southgate: ‘He’s a player we like’
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Arsenal star Emile Smith Rowe was "very close" to earning a maiden call-up to the England squad this month, Gareth Southgate has said.

The Gunners academy graduate starred in the north London derby win over Tottenham with a goal and an assist but just missed the cut when it came to joining team-mate Bukayo Saka in the senior squad.

Southgate also made it clear after reaching the Euro 2020 final with a very young Three Lions squad that he is reluctant to disrupt the group too much by continuing to promote a number of younger players.

Smith Rowe is expected to be named in Lee Carsley's England Under-21 squad on Friday after having to withdraw from the camp last month.

"He is a player we like a lot and he was very close to making this squad," Southgate said of Smith Rowe.

"We have brought a lot of youngsters up and that's not always straightforward.

"Sometimes you want to bring them with the seniors and then they need to go back with the Under-21s. At this moment in time, unless we need to, I don't want to bring anymore players from the Under-21s. They have to earn that right over a longer period.

"This is a fairly settled squad. We know that some players aren’t playing as often as we would ideally like, but we’re only 6-7 games into the season.

"I’m trying to respect the squad that got us to the final, not make too many changes to that, make sure that young players really have to earn the right to come in.

"Emile, unfortunately, wasn’t able to play with the Under-21s last time and had to go back. So I thought his performance against Tottenham was very good. We know how he finished last season as well. I can only say he’s a player we like and he’s very close.”

Emile Smith Rowe starred for Arsenal in their north London derby win (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Emile Smith Rowe starred for Arsenal in their north London derby win (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Southgate is looking to strike a fine balance with his younger players. Mason Greenwood and Jude Bellingham are both fit but have been omitted from the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary following discussions with Southgate about how many games they are having to manage.

"They don't come as a pair but they are both similar situations in that they are young players with a heavy load at the moment," Southgate said of the duo.

"I have spoken with both of the players and both feel it. Jude has a heavy load of matches at the minute, he is playing Champions League games, he is playing league games and as an 18-year-old he had a full season last year and went straight into a European Championship so he has had no break.

"We have to remember that these lads are still physically growing. When we talk about young player development, we have to be really careful with how we handle them and make sure that these are two players that we think can be really exciting players for England for the future.

"We don't want to overload them so we need to make sure that we are making the right decisions. They are very much decisions taken with me having conversations with the players and their families rather than the clubs."

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