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30 September 2021

Fikayo Tomori, Ollie Watkins and Aaron Ramsdale back in England squad

30 September 2021

Fikayo Tomori, Ollie Watkins and Aaron Ramsdale returned to the England squad as Harry Maguire and Trent Alexander-Arnold missed the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary through injury.

The Three Lions sit top of Group I heading into the penultimate international camp of the year, with manager Gareth Southgate naming a 23-man selection for the double-header.

AC Milan defender Tomori has been included in the squad nearly two years on from winning his first and only cap in Kosovo – the Three Lions’ final match before the pandemic led football to shut down.

Watkins returns for the first time since being cut from the provisional Euro 2020 squad, with uncapped Ramsdale back having been brought into the squad that reached the final following an injury to Dean Henderson.

Maguire, Alexander-Arnold and Patrick Bamford dropped out of the group for next month’s internationals through injury, while Ramsdale’s call-up meant there was no place for Nick Pope.

Phil Foden returned after missing the September triple-header through a foot complaint, but Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood were both rested.

Since earning his sole England cap to date, 23-year-old Tomori has left Chelsea for Milan, initially on loan before completing a permanent move this summer.

“I thought he finished last season well,” Southgate said. “He’s playing at a club where there’s an expectation to win every week so he’s performing under pressure.

“I like Fikayo in terms of his aggressiveness as a defender. Because he’s got speed he’s confident enough to defend on the front foot and his use of the ball is improving all the time.”

Aaron Ramsdale is enjoying his start to life at Arsenal (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)

Ramsdale, 23, is another player to have taken a step up at club level following his move to Arsenal this summer.

“From Aaron’s perspective, the move to a bigger club with higher expectations and a style of play where he is asked to build with his feet from the back, he’s coping really well,” Southgate said.

“I think that’s an important factor for us when looking at the biggest matches, having a goalkeeper who has really adapted well to a move and is full of confidence.”

Bellingham and Greenwood are both absent despite strong recent performances at club level, with Southgate saying the workloads of the teenagers must be carefully managed.

“They don’t come as a pair but they’re both in similar situations, they are young players with heavy workloads at the moment,” he said. “I’ve spoken to both of them. Jude at the moment is playing a high level of matches with Champions League games, league games.

Jude Bellingham, left, is left out after a busy 12 months with Borussia Dortmund and England (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)

“As an 18-year-old he had a full season last season and then into the Euros with no break. We have to remember these lads are still physically growing, so when we talk about young player development we have to be really careful in how we handle them.

“These are two players we think can be really exciting for England’s future.”

Southgate said he would have selected Watkins last month but for injury, having been impressed with the 25-year-old’s attitude when he made his debut earlier in the year.

Harry Kane was an automatic selection, and Southgate said he had no concerns over his captain despite indifferent form at club level.

“I can only talk from an England perspective,” Southgate said. “Every couple of months I sit here and have to answer similar questions, and then Harry goes out and scores a lot of goals for us.

“That’s the life of a high-profile player – you have to accept there’s going to be that speculation and intensity, that analysis of performances.

“Last month we had three games, he played in all three and scored goals in all three – he’s still a critical part of what we do and I’m sure he’s going to be highly motivated when he comes to see us next week.

“He’s closing in on a number of incredible goalscorers. We had the sad news of Jimmy Greaves in the last couple of weeks, and Harry is in that echelon of incredible names.”

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