Gareth Southgate explains Andy Carroll, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck's absence from England squad

James Benge
Evening Standard
Southgate addresses the media after naming his first squad as permanent England manager: Getty Images
Southgate addresses the media after naming his first squad as permanent England manager: Getty Images

Gareth Southgate has claimed a lack of first-team football hampered Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck’s claims for a place in his England squad.

Carroll, Welbeck and Theo Walcott were among the most notable absentees from Southgate’s 26-man squad for games against Germany and Lithuania next week.

Sunderland’s 34-year-old striker Jermain Defoe was the most notable beneficiary of the attacking trio’s absence, with Southampton duo Nathan Remond and James Ward-Prowse and West Brom midfielder Jake Livermore among the surprise inclusions.

Walcott, with 17 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions, has more goals to his name this season than any member of Southgate’s squad, and the England manager admitted that the Arsenal forward could feel more disappointed than most to have missed the cut.

“Theo has a really valid claim for being included. I didn’t see him featuring in the games this week and so in terms of having him in the longer squad I needed to look at one or two other players that I don’t know too much about.

“That’s a really tough call on him and one I don’t expect him to be chuffed to bits about. Andy I don’t think has played enough.

“It’s a bit like Danny Welbeck – Danny is a player I really like but at the moment he’s a little bit short of match minutes.”

Notably Carroll, who Standard Sport first revealed would miss out earlier today, has played more Premier League minutes this season (980) than two Manchester United representatives, Jesse Lingard (677) and Luke Shaw (595).

Yet it was the decision to bring Defoe back into the squad for the first time since 2014 – he has not played for England since November 2013 – that drew the most attention.

Though Defoe has enjoyed an Indian summer at Sunderland, scoring 14 in 27 league games this season, he will be approaching his 36th birthday by the time England travel to the World Cup in Russia in 2018, assuming they qualify.

However Southgate, naming his first squad since being handed permanent charge of England in November, insisted his age would not preclude the Sunderland striker from selection.


For the forthcoming matches against Germany and Lithuania

Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Torino, on loan from Man City), Tom Heaton (Burnley);

Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man Utd), Michael Keane (Burnley), Luke Shaw (Man Utd), Chris Smalling (Man Utd), John Stones (Man City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham)

Dele Alli (Tottenham), Michail Antonio (West Ham), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Man Utd), Jake Livermore (West Brom), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Nathan Redmond (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Man City), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton);

Jermain Defoe (Sunderland), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd), Jamie Vardy (Leicester).

“Year after year he has phenomenal, but this year in particular, in a team that aren’t creating as many chances as other teams, his strike rate is outstanding,” Southgate said. “I didn’t want to just look at his age and think he’s finished with England.

“He’s somebody that is immensely proud to have represented England at every age group. I think you get young players with a point to prove and older players with a point to prove.”

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