West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen and Leicester’s James Justin received their first England call-ups as Gareth Southgate named his squad for June’s Nations League matches.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, Aston Villa skipper Tyrone Mings and Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe were absent from the 27-man selection.
Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Kalvin Phillips and Fikayo Tomori, fresh from winning Serie A with AC Milan, were included in the Nations League squad, but there was no recall for in-form Leicester playmaker James Maddison.
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Bowen and Justin were the standout inclusions in Southgate’s squad for the four Nations League games, with trips to Hungary and Germany followed by Molineux encounters with Italy and Hungary.
After a foot injury prevented him receiving his maiden senior call-up in March, West Ham star Bowen was included having finished a fine season with 18 goals and 13 assists in all competitions.
Versatile full-back Justin was a more surprising inclusion. The 24-year-old has made 19 appearances in all competitions since recovering from an anterior cruciate injury sustained in February 2021.
Southgate says West Ham striker Bowen “thoroughly deserves” his first senior call-up.
— England (@England) May 24, 2022
On Bowen’s inclusion, Southgate said: “Constantly strong performances. We were certainly thinking about involving him in March before he got injured.
“He’s a goal threat and his direct journey is an interesting reminder that you don’t have to be at an elite academy – experience is a great route to go.
“He works incredibly hard for the team, which we want all our players to do. He thoroughly deserves his call-up.”
England are scheduled to play Hungary twice, plus Germany and Italy, between June 4-14.
Southgate said Justin had impressed him and the England coaching set-up since recovering from a serious knee injury last season.
“He’s a player that we’ve followed for a long time and he obviously had a very serious injury and has now, we feel, played the number of matches and been able to play more regularly,” Southgate said.
“He’s comfortable playing left or right-back and very comfortable with the ball, a super athlete, a very good person, all my feedback on him from the Under-21s and people who have worked with him, so we’re really looking forward to working with him more closely.”
Southgate explained why he decided to include Trent Alexander-Arnold and not Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson due to their involvement in their club’s Champions League final.
Southgate said: “We’ve learned over the last three or four years, where we’ve had players in that (final) match, the emotional fall-out, win or lose, from that game is enormous.
“So you’re not too sure what’s going to come through the door and it’s very difficult to get yourself up after that, so I spoke with the two lads about what they felt was best for them.
“They’re in different positions because Jordan’s age, the number of caps he’s got, is totally different to Trent of course and we’ve got good players in all those (midfield) areas of the pitch. We’ve got cover.
“But we felt that with Hendo, we didn’t need to see him this summer and with Trent, slightly different. We’d like him to be with us from the start of the camp.
“We gave him the option of reporting a bit later so he got a longer break after the final, but he felt more comfortable to keep going and finish a bit earlier.”
AC Milan’s former Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori and Roma striker Tammy Abraham have both been rewarded for impressive seasons in Serie A by being recalled to the squad.
Southgate said: “Firstly, huge credit to both the boys for going and adapting to living abroad, playing in a different style of football, endeavouring to learn another language and fit in culturally with the group. That deserves huge credit.”
The England boss added: “Fik in particular comes with the confidence of just winning a (Serie A) title, he’s playing at AC Milan in front of 70-80,000 people every week, that’s similar sort of pressure to what he’s going to have in an England shirt, so it’s a really good bridge.”