England squad announced as Raheem Sterling and Trent Alexander-Arnold are omitted while Ivan Toney earns surprise call-up
The England squad set to face Italy and Ukraine in their opening Euro 2024 qualifiers has been announced, with manager Gareth Southgate making some interesting inclusions and surprise omissions across his 23 selected players.
Despite off-field controversy, the England squad includes both Ivan Toney and Kyle Walker, while Raheem Sterling misses out due to a lack of fitness and Trent Alexander-Arnold simply hasn't been picked.
Elsewhere, Chelsea defenders Ben Chilwell and Reece James return from injury and are straight back in the fold, with Crystal Palace's Marc Guehi also returning to the squad.
Southgate is happy with his selections, confident the 23-man England squad will be able to start their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign strongly away in Italy next week.
"We've got to pick our best players where possible and there's a balance," he said. "Do you go with a level of player who's physically fit but not doing well and being selected?
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"You have to pick your best players as long as they can get to a reasonable physical level. "We're shorter than other nations in depth of selection but I'm happy."
The England squad contains a mixture of youth and experience, with the majority of players regularly starting for their clubs and performing well.
Among those players is Ivan Toney, who is currently facing charges of 262 alleged breaches of the FA's betting rules over a four-year period, some of which he has reportedly admitted to. The FA are yet to issue him with a hearing date, though, in which an Independent Regulatory Commission will reach a verdict and issue a subsequent punishment if required.
Regardless, the Brentford striker is in a rich vein of form this season, having bagged 16 goals in 24 Premier League games. For that reason, Southgate has given the 24-year-old another chance to make his international debut, having called him up in September 2022 but not featuring him in a game.
"There hasn't been a trial yet or any judgement so I don't know on what basis we wouldn't pick him really," the England boss said.
"Ivan has been consistent throughout the season. He is playing really well. I like his presence in games. I saw his game against Arsenal where he was outstanding and he deserves his opportunity."
Kyle Walker is currently the subject of a police investigation into allegations of indecent exposure in a Wilmslow bar earlier this month, but Southgate has still selected him in the latest England squad as well.
"It's a complicated situation," he acknowledged.
"I have spoken at length with him. The situation at the moment is he's playing with his club and there's no conclusive evidence at this stage. I have to be careful being the moral judge on things. We have had a couple of long conversations and we feel we want him with us.
"When you are an England international there's a higher bar on what is expected and we don't take those decisions lightly."
England squad to face Italy and Ukraine in Euro 2024 qualifiers
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal).
Defenders: Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), 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).
Forwards: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford).