James Maddison and Callum Wilson are in England’s World Cup squad after Gareth Southgate handed the in-form pair their first international call-ups in three years.
With 11 days to go until the Three Lions kick-off their Group B campaign against Iran, the former defender has confirmed the 26-man group that will be travelling to the Gulf next week.
Southgate has largely stuck with the tried and tested, with the most eye-catching selections being Leicester attacking midfielder Maddison and Newcastle striker Wilson.
The wait is over.
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Maddison’s only England cap came as a substitute against Montenegro in November 2019 – the last squad four-cap Wilson was involved in.
Southgate said he had decided two weeks ago that Maddison would be in the squad.
“He’s playing really well, he’s a good player, he’s earned the right,” the England manager said.
“We think he can give us something slightly different to the other attacking players we’ve got.
“I think at various stages there have been conversations, debates about James – there’s been moments where ahead of the Euros I don’t think he was in contention and (in) September was probably a fair debate, but I think he’s playing as well as any of the attacking players in this country.”
There is a recall for rejuvenated Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, whose last cap came in the Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.
There is no space in Southgate’s Qatar selection for Roma striker Tammy Abraham, Brentford frontman Ivan Toney or West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen.
Manchester City pair Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips were included despite a lack of match fitness, while Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has been named in the squad despite his limited game time.
Versatile Arsenal defender Ben White has been brought into a group that has Luke Shaw as the only out-and-out left-back. Marc Guehi, Fikayo Tomori and Tyrone Mings are among those missing out.
Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher made the cut but Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse again just missed out on a major tournament squad.
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Asked if his squad contained everything necessary to win a World Cup, Southgate said: “We’ve wanted to make sure the balance of the squad is right.
“I think the squad is more important than ever. With five substitutes you can have almost half the team changed during the game so you want different options for different moments of matches and stages at the tournament as well.
“We’ve had to cover a couple of players that aren’t yet fully fit, so having 26 available meant we were probably able to take a couple of risks that you might not have been able to with 23, but we think the balance is there and we’ve got cover in the positions we need.
“We’re lighter on depth in some positions than others but we think we’ve got everything covered.”