England correspondents notebook: Spotlight on Evan Toni, Judd Bellingham and Harry Maguire ahead of Nations League return | football news

Midfield trio Judd Bellingham, Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice trained on the inside as England successfully played on grass for the first time before winning a double header in the Nations League.

Henderson was linked to the team on Monday night after being recruited to replace injured Calvin Phillips and was one of three players not training with the group on Tuesday morning.

Newcastle defender Kieran Trippier was also not among the main group and only met the squad later in the day due to a personal commitment.

Evan Toni trained with Gareth Southgate and 23 other top players for the first time, the Brentford striker after being called up for the first time last week.

England’s next two matches…

  • Friday 23 September: Italy (Away) – kick-off at 7.45pm
  • Monday 26th September: Germany (at home) – kick-off at 7.45pm

England travel to face Italy in Milan on Friday night, knowing that defeat would see them relegated to League B of the Nations League after losing twice and drawing two of their Group A3 matches so far.

At the start of a busy international two weeks which is crucial to Southgate’s World Cup plans, Sky Sports News Senior Reporter Rob Dorsett He is at St George’s Park training base in England to reflect on key talking points.

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Jack Grealish claims there is a lot to come from him at Manchester City and suggests he hasn’t been at his best since joining the club.

Southgate midfield options

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Danny Mills believes Calvin Phillips will struggle to get back to full fitness in time for the World Cup, after his recent shoulder setback.

“He has some concerns. Southgate hasn’t mentioned much of his midfielders. With Calvin Phillips withdrawing with a shoulder injury, this leaves Jordan Henderson, Judd Bellingham and Declan Rice three of England’s key midfielders.

“Southgate doesn’t have a lot of options in midfield and Bellingham is probably the brightest in the group. He’s already made 10 appearances this season for Borussia Dortmund and has been really fantastic – more than any other midfielder in England.

“He has also scored three goals and is a regular player in the Bundesliga and the Champions League. The thing is, with two big games coming up against Italy and Germany, against a better opponent, Southgate likes to play as two midfielders.

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Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham is still linked with a move to one of the Premier League giants at the end of this season.

“With Phillips losing and Henderson racing to get back in shape, that could be a problem. Declan Rice – if he’s fit – is a great player, but who would play alongside him? Could it be Bellingham? It would be a huge opportunity for the youngster.”

“He turned 19 just three months ago, so Southgate has some thinking to do. He’s not so lucky with his choices in midfield.

“The fact that Henderson was present means that Southgate and his medical team believe he can play some role in these next two matches against Italy and Germany. That will be a huge boost.”

How big is Tony’s chance this week?

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Brentford striker Evan Toni says he never doubted his chances of calling up England but adds why he rejected the possibility of playing for Jamaica.

“Evan Toni is the first Brentford player to be called up to the England squad since 1939.

“It’s a huge opportunity for Tony and it’s a big story. He’s never been in England so this is all very new to him. This is the first time he’s ever trained at St George’s Park, and she’s with the rest of the first team alongside Harry Kane.

“When you look at the route he took – it’s an extraordinary story. He played in Northampton Town, Barnsley, Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe and Wigan. Just two years ago he was playing for Peterborough in the first league.

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Danny Mills believes Evan Toni has a “fantastic opportunity” to make the England squad for the World Cup later this year.

“But we shouldn’t patronize him. While it’s a great story, he totally deserves this England call-up. He’s been in great shape for Brentford. He’s scored 13 league goals in a calendar year – only Kane has scored more than him among English strikers in the Premier League. 2022.

“He’s a fickle and available striker and England don’t have much of him at the moment. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Patrick Bamford, Ole Watkins and Callum Wilson are all out of the picture.

“Expect him to play for the first time. I don’t think there would be any point in calling him up if he didn’t have any time in the match against Italy or Germany.

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Evan Toni has said Arsenal players’ mockery of him on social media has become heartbreaking, after some members of Mike Arteta’s squad responded to Toni’s 2021 tweet following Brentford’s win last season.

With a record in sight, is Kane expected to play both games?

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Harry Kane said it was great to score his 50th goal for England in a big game after the late penalty that tied the match against Germany in June.

“I’d be surprised if they didn’t both start. Let’s not forget that Southgate is under a bit of pressure. The last time England played, they lost 4-0 at home to Hungary.

“These are the last two games England play before the World Cup and they are against two of the best teams in the world – Italy and Germany. That’s what you get in the Nations League.

“Southgate will try to put together his strongest team at the San Siro on Friday night. Kane scored 50 goals – just three behind Wayne Rooney – and he has already come out and said he ideally would like to break that record before the World Cup.

“Kane has to start, but I would expect to see Toni come off the bench if England are in charge or, in fact, if they need a goal and they need to renew things.”

Is Maguire’s lack of match fitness a problem?

Harry Maguire (right) and Luke Shaw (left) were not used during Manchester United's 2-1 win over Liverpool
picture:
Like Maguire and Luke Shaw, they were marginal

“I feel the lack of regular football for Harry Maguire and the positioning of the central defender is Southgate’s biggest problem.

“The controversy among the fans is there for all to see. Maguire is a fantastic and fantastic figure for England. If you’re only picking England’s form, Maguire is the number one name on the squad.

“He was a key part of England’s success in Russia during the last World Cup and in the European Championship – but he’s not playing for Manchester United.

“Since he was brought down by Erik Ten Hag, United have come back without him. What has he done for his confidence?

England’s 28-man squad to face Italy and Germany

goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Nick Pope, and Aaron Ramsdale.

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Conor Cody, Eric Dyer, Mark Gueye, Rhys James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker.

Midfielders: Judd Bellingham, Mason Mount, Calvin Phillips, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse.

Attackers: Tammy Abraham, Jarrod Bowen, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Evan Toni.

“When you compare that to Eric Dier, it’s the first time we’ve seen him in the England squad in nearly two years – November 2020 was the last time he was.

“Tottenham fans have been saying he should be back in the England squad for a long time. He’s here with pride and is probably the most qualified England centre-back at the moment.

“But he plays a very specialized role – at the heart of three defences. If England don’t play a role in defence three, will Dier get a match? That is a debate we will know more about in the coming days.

“Dyer plays and is in good shape while Maguire is not, but he has never failed England. It’s a tough situation.”

The struggle to be England’s left-back

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The Football Committee on Saturday responded to the England national team announcement, with Paul Merson believing Luke Shaw was lucky to have him included.

“The truth is Southgate had to break his own rules. He’s always said you need to play and play well, Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw are both in the same boat.

Shaw was a key part of the England squad at Euro 2020 but is not playing for Manchester United. He lost his place to Terrell Malacia who looked comfortable and took up that position under Ten Hag.

“Chilwell played a bit more after starting in the Champions League against Dinamo Zagreb but was left out after 70 minutes. Graham Potter has now come in at Chelsea, and of course he worked with Marc Cucurella at Brighton, so you wonder if Chilwell is set to get more Playing time Trippier can also appear at left-back.

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England’s Nations League match against Italy on Friday will be the first time that God Save the King will be presented before an international match and will be sung by singer Carli Pauli.

Who will replace Pickford?

“Dean Henderson has been called up because he has played regularly for Nottingham Forest this season after his difficulties at Manchester United. It is a huge opportunity for him, Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale.

“It’s a key question as to who will be the replacement for Jordan Pickford. It could be that Southgate plays a mix and match, which gives them all some time for the match. I doubt it. There isn’t much time before Southgate names his side for the World Cup but I’d say Bob is ahead of the other two. a little bit.

“He’s been in eight games with a top team compared to three Ramsdale runs and the Henderson game. If Bob plays against Italy, I think it’s a good indication that Southgate considers him to be second behind Pickford.”

World Cup Group B matches in England

England coach Gareth Southgate during the UEFA Nations League match at Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton.  Photo date: Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

November 21: Iran (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick-off at 1 pm

November 25: United States of America (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor) – kick-off 7pm

November 29: Wales (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick-off 7pm

Choose the perfect squad for the 2022 World Cup in England

Gareth Southgate has revealed his last England squad ahead of the World Cup – but who will make the starting lineup?

What would your England starting line-up look like if the World Cup started today and all the players were available? Use the interactive selector to choose your team below, screenshots you select and share on Twitter Tweet embed.