Copy of 2024-06-06T152501Z_1344024577_UP1EK6616TN8V_RTRMADP_3_SOCCER-FRIENDLY-ENG-ICE-PREVIEW-1717698730809
England's Jack Grealish and Ivan Toney during training at Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre, London, on Thursday. Image Credit: Reuters

Manchester: Harry Maguire and Jack Grealish were the high-profile omissions as England manager Gareth Southgate named a European Championship squad on Thursday packed with attacking talent but short of defensive experience.

Jude Bellingham, who helped Real Madrid win the Champions League, Bayern Munich’s Harry Kane, Phil Foden, who had a breakout season with Manchester City, and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka headline a powerful group of forwards.

Experienced players

“I’m excited,” Southgate told reporters. “The other night (a 3-0 win over Bosnia & Herzegovina), we had a lot of experienced attacking players not on the starting grid. And we had a lot of goals in the team still.

“In an attacking sense, that’s really crucial. The profile of our midfield, the way we’re moving the ball forward more quickly, seeing forward passes, that excites me watching training,” he added.

Injuries impacted the selections in defence with Manchester United’s Maguire, who has 63 caps, the highest-profile player Southgate left out.

“The decision on Harry is totally about his physical condition and his recovery from the injury,” Southgate said.

“There is no other reason as he is one of our strongest centre backs.” The 31-year-old Maguire said he was “devastated” to be left out of the squad.

“Simply, I am absolutely gutted,” Maguire wrote on social media. “For me, representing England is the highest honour. It means everything to me. If I can’t help the team as a player, I will support them as a fan — along with the rest of the country.” Maguire’s fellow United defender Luke Shaw did make the squad despite ongoing injury issues.

“I think you can take one gamble. That’s a gamble where we’ve got enough evidence that it could pay off,” Southgate said of Shaw, who did not train with the squad on Thursday ahead of Friday’s friendly at Wembley against Iceland.

Manchester City’s Grealish, who has made 36 international appearances, was also omitted along with James Maddison, Jarrad Branthwaite, James Trafford, Curtis Jones and Jarrell Quansah.

“All the players took the news really respectfully. Of course, all players will think they should be in and that’s why they are top players,” Southgate said.

Extremely well played

“The fact is we have some players who have been playing extremely well in the league all season.” Crystal Palace contribute the most players to the squad, keeper Dean Henderson, defender Marc Guehi, midfielder Adam Wharton and forward Eberechi Eze.

Guehi, Wharton and Eze are among the dozen players without major tournament experience, along with Lewis Dunk, Joe Gomez, Ezri Konsa, Kobbie Mainoo, Jarrod Bowen, Anthony Gordon, Ivan Toney, Ollie Watkins and Cole Palmer.

“You’re trying to balance experience where we’ve got 11 players who have gone to three tournaments or more with younger players who are playing so well we can’t ignore what they’re doing,” Southgate said.

England start their Euro 2024 campaign against Serbia on June 16.

England squad:

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale Defenders: Lewis Dunk, Joe Gomez, Marc Guehi, Ezri Konsa, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo, Declan Rice, Adam Wharton Forwards: Jude Bellingham, Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze, Phil Foden, Anthony Gordon, Harry Kane, Cole Palmer, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney, Ollie Watkins