Gareth Southgate is ready to put his faith in Kalvin Phillips and pick the Manchester City man against Italy in a crucial Euro 2024 qualifier despite the midfielder not yet having started a Premier League game for his new club all season.
Phillips, 27, who has suffered with a prolonged shoulder injury since joining City from Leeds United for £42 million in the summer last started a league game on May 22 last year – the last of his Leeds career. Yet Telegraph Sport understands that he is in the team for the Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy that Southgate hopes will set the tone for a fourth successful qualifying campaign under his charge.
The England manager is expected to start Phillips in midfield with Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice. It is also anticipated that he will start with a front three of Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane and Jack Grealish – the latter getting the nod over his City team-mate Phil Foden.
Southgate has called upon his players to demonstrate that they are ready to put aside past successes, and near misses – including a World Cup semi-final and a place in the final of Euro 2020 – and demonstrate they have the appetite to win again.
After that final defeat to Italy in July 2021, Southgate said his players responded with a crucial victory over Hungary in Budapest the following September in a World Cup qualifier for Qatar 2022. “What we did really well after the Euros was give one of our best performances and our mentally was really good,” he said. “I don’t expect mentality to be a problem but I remember a late goal against Poland [in March 2021 also in World Cup qualifying] with no fans which was such an important moment but could be taken for granted.”
What is the match?
It the first fixture of England’s qualification for next year’s European Championships. They are in Group C alongside Italy, Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta
The top two from each group will qualify for the final tournament set to take place in Germany next summer.
When does the match take place?
Kick off is at 7.45pm tonight.
Where is the match taking place?
The match is being hosted at Napoli’s Diego Armando Maradona Stadium. Jeremy Wilson explains why violence could follow the first international match being played here in a decade.
What TV channel is it on?
It is being shown on Channel 4. Coverage starts at 7pm and will be hosted by Jess Breach.
Who is in the England squad?
Last week Southgate named his squad. There were some notable omissions, including Trent Alexander-Arnold, Raheem Sterling, Callum Wilson and Jadon Sancho.
Subsequently, Nick Pope, Mason Mount and Marcus Rashford withdrew from the sqaud.
Here’s the 26-man squad named by the England manager.
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle United)*, Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defenders: Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea)*, Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham United)
Forwards: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)*, Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford)
* Have withdrawn from the sqaud
What did Gareth Southgate have to say when naming his squad?
Southgate bemoaned the paucity of homegrown talent but has said that one player in contention for a future promotion to the senior team is Nottingham Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White.
With Chelsea’s Mason Mount pulling out with a pelvic injury, Gibbs-White is understood to be in Southgate’s thoughts. The £25 million signing has played for England at every age group from the under-16s to under-21s.
“We like Morgan, we think he’s progressing well. He’s been a player that Steve Cooper had at under-17s so he has always shown great belief in him,” said Southgate.
“He’s having a good season at Forest, we think it’s a little bit early for him with us but we’re watching him closely.”
Declan Rice hits back at Souness criticism
Declan Rice has responded to Graeme Souness’ criticism and believes the Sky Sports pundit was harsh in his assessment of him excelling in only one of the three attributes of the best midfielders.
Rice has come off social media to focus on his own performances and West Ham’s fight against relegation but was aware of Souness’ comments and also television colleague Roy Keane who has taken aim at the England midfielder.
“It’s harsh, I think it’s harsh because Souness doesn’t watch West Ham every week,” Rice said. “There’s loads of West Ham fans, 60,000 go every week, and see what I do. So I think to say I’m only good at one of three is harsh but Souness was a top midfielder, a top player and when someone like him speaks you have to sometimes listen and take on board.
“Roy said some glowing things about me in the past and sometimes somethings I can improve as well. It’s one of those where you take it with a pinch of salt and try not to let it affect you that much. I can take criticism on the chin quite well. If it is that way I can see where I can improve.”
Rice has been linked with a move away from West Ham, with Arsenal interested in the 24-year-old, who has previously said he wants to test himself in the Champions League eventually.
Harry Kane can make history in Naples
Kane will make his first England appearance since the World Cup quarter-final defeat by Italy, a rare low point in a stellar career for Tottenham and his country.
The 29 year old is currently level with Wayne Rooney as England’s all-time leading goalscorer.
“I haven’t really felt the need to pick the phone up since the World Cup,” said Southgate. “It [his recovery] is there in his performances for Spurs.
“Sometimes you can busy yourself and look for a pat on the back by getting in touch with a player but I can’t take any credit for what he’s done.
“What I’ve observed is a player still super-confident, still ready to perform, still hungry to score goals. He’s obviously gone through the personal landmark with Spurs and then there’s this one that he’s going to nail with us at some point.”
Gianluca Vialli tribute
There will be a pre-match tribute to Italy manager Roberto Mancini’s late assistant Gianluca Vialli, the former Chelsea player and manager, who died in January.
Mancini said: “It’s very emotional obviously because it’s the first time we’ve played since Luca’s passing. We are very fortunate to have had him as a team-mate and worked alongside him. You were lucky to have him in London and he almost became an honorary Londoner … people like him are immortal and will always be with us.”
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