World Cup 2018: Maguire and Chalobah earn England call-up

Harry Maguire has impressed for Leicester City this season
Harry Maguire has impressed for Leicester City this season

Uncapped duo Harry Maguire and Nathaniel Chalobah have been handed their first call-ups in the first England squad since Wayne Rooney’s international retirement.

Manager Gareth Southgate has named the Leicester defender and the Watford midfielder in a 28-man squad to face Malta and Slovakia in World Cup qualifiers on September 1 and 4.

Rooney had been asked to join up with the squad but instead decided to call time on his Three Lions career at the age of 31.

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Southgate has also named four goalkeepers in his panel, with Everton’s Jordan Pickford joining Joe Hart, Jack Butland and Tom Heaton.

Southgate confirmed that he had considered recalling Everton striker Wayne Rooney before the 31-year-old, who has scored a record 53 goals for England team, announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday.

“I called him, but he said he had been thinking long and hard about his decision and he announced his international retirement,” said Southgate.

Nathaniel Chalobah moved from Chelsea to Watford in the summer to further his career
Nathaniel Chalobah moved from Chelsea to Watford in the summer to further his career

“I was thinking of including him in the squad. His form has been excellent. If you are the most capped outfield player and record goalscorer, I am not sure what else you have to do to be an England legend.

“He has served his country brilliantly and I congratulate him on a fantastic international career.”

England, who have a two-point lead in Group F with four qualifying matches left, face Malta, bottom of the group, on 1 September and Slovakia at Wembley three days later.

Southgate is relishing the chance to see some more of Foxes defender Maguire as injury prevented him being called up for the summer internationals – the World Cup qualifying draw against Scotland and the 3-2 friendly defeat by France.

The England boss said: “I thought his performances for Hull were very good. He’s a defender that’s very comfortable with the ball and that’s the profile of international football.

“I think he’s already adjusted really well at Leicester to a new club. He plays with great composure (and) can defend the ball in the box.

“So I think it’s a really good opportunity for us to have a look at him…for him to get a feel of being around the senior squad and we can assess how he goes in training and that sort of thing.

“As you say, we were looking at him towards the end of last season but he wasn’t really fully fit towards the end of the year.”

England squad to face Malta and Slovakia

Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Jack Butland (Stoke City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford), Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United), Jermain Defoe (AFC Bournemouth), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Joe Hart (West Ham United, on loan from Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Michael Keane (Everton), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Jake Livermore (West Bromwich Albion), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), John Stones (Manchester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)

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