England have announced a 25 man squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in September, including Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford for the very first time.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Nick Pope, who missed the Euros this summer through injury, make their returns in a squad heavily featuring the same stars that made the final at Wembley only six weeks ago. Despite playing what many would consider weaker opposition in Hungary away, Andorra at home before wrapping up this round of international fixtures away in Poland on September 8, the England manager is largely sticking to the players from this summer instead of giving youngsters like Mason Greenwood and Fikayo Tomori a return to the squad.
Patrick Bamford was said to be disappointed at not making the squad at any point last season with Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin preferred, as well as Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins in the rotating cast behind Harry Kane. However, the Leeds United man who scored 17 goals last season in the Premier League has been given his chance here. Gareth Southgate said on Bamford that his ‘progress with [Leeds United] has been excellent’ noting this is an opportunity for him to make his mark amongst the talented array of forwards England possess.
Jack Grealish also returns to the score having made his debut for new club Manchester City and scoring his first goal for the club v Norwich City. With City set to use him in a variety of positions and another Manchester City attacker in Phil Foden absent through injury, this is a huge chance for Grealish to push on at England and earn a starting place, with his versatility in attack a big bonus for club and country. Other City stars Raheem Sterling, John Stones and Kyle Walker return too, despite having only featured once par Stones who was deemed not fit to start v Norwich City, but with plenty of CBs available such Tyrone Mings, Conor Coady and Harry Maguire, Southgate is not short of options.
Mason Greenwood is a noted absentee despite being slated for a return having been back in the goals at the start of the Premier League season. However, Southgate is fully aware of the Manchester United forward’s capabilities and it surely won’t be long before he returns to England after his escapades last September in Iceland. Marcus Rashford despite having returned to training at his club is yet to fully recover from his shoulder surgery he had after the Euros had finished. He is expected to return to the pitch sometime in October and another England call up won’t be far off either. Other Manchester United players Jesse Lingard and Jadon Sancho are part of the selected 25, despite having had limited game time and the speculation surrounding a potential Lingard exit.
Harry Kane will also play a role as expected despite not getting his move to Manchester City. He’s committed himself to Tottenham Hotspur for the season and surely that will apply to England duties too as captain of a young side striving toward success. Southgate kept his trust in Kane throughout the summer and it was duly repaid in the latter stages with Kane scoring 4 goals from the Round of 16 onward.
In summary, there’s no real surprises here, injury absences were clear and the large majority of the squad maintain Southgate’s full trust from the Euros, these qualifiers are really England’s opportunity to lay their stall out early ahead of next winter’s World Cup in Qatar, one Southgate will be leading the Three Lions in to.
The Dugout will be covering the England games throughout the international breaks, with previews and post match analysis.
Full squad for September 2021 fixtures:
Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham United)
Forwards: Patrick Bamford (Leeds United), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)