London: Jordan Henderson was named on Thursday in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for matches against Ukraine and Scotland despite his move from Liverpool to Saudi club Al Ettifaq.
Manchester United centre-back Harry Maguire is also included in the 26-man squad despite being out of favour at Old Trafford but there is no place for in-form Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling.
The road to next year’s European Championship continues with a qualifier against Ukraine in Poland on September 9, before a friendly in Scotland three days later.
Henderson’s move to Al Ettifaq led to questions over his international career while former United captain Maguire and Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips have yet to play a minute of club football this season.
Under-21 European Championship winner Levi Colwill received his first formal call-up and uncapped Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah has also got the nod for the first time.
Midfielder Henderson, 33, opted to leave Liverpool for the Saudi Pro League in July and Southgate admits he has some concerns.
“We’ve watched every game,” he said. “The key as we move forward is going to be the physical intensity of the league, because of the heat as well, whether that is going to allow him to perform at the level we need.
“Clearly the level of the league is changing all the time. Lots of countries are going to have this issue. Portugal have got a few players there so I’m sure they are going to be playing international football still.”
Speaking about Maguire’s inclusion, Southgate said: “We have lost a lot of experienced players with caps at centre-half.
“We are giving some less experienced players the opportunity to come into the squad but unfortunately it looks like Tyrone (Mings) is out for the season, (John) Stones is out for this camp, Eric Dier hasn’t been in the Tottenham squad.
“There is a space there and I think for these two games it is important we have some experience in that place of the pitch.”
Southgate said the door was still open for Sterling, who has 82 caps, to earn a way back, adding that other players had established themselves in his absence from recent matches.
“It is a difficult call and Raheem isn’t particularly happy about it — I’m convinced he will have a good season at Chelsea, I’ve no doubt about that.”
Hernandez, Saliba in France squad
New Paris Saint-Germain defender Lucas Hernandez is set to make his first appearance for France since suffering a serious injury at last year’s World Cup after being named Thursday in the squad for a September double-header against Ireland and Germany.
Hernandez, 27, was stretchered off early in France’s win over Australia in their opening game in Qatar last November with a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament.
He did not play again at the tournament as a result, or for Bayern Munich in the second half of last season, but moved to PSG in July for a reported 40 million euros ($43.5m) and has started all three games so far in this campaign for his new club.
Arsenal centre-back William Saliba is also back in the squad named by coach Didier Deschamps after missing the end of last season due to injury.
France are top of Euro 2024 qualifying Group B with four wins from four games before hosting Ireland in Paris next Thursday, September 7.
Ireland have just three points from three games and a French win will leave the World Cup runners-up on the brink of securing a place at next year’s finals in Germany.
The game is being played at the Parc des Princes with Les Bleus’ usual home at the Stade de France given over to the staging of Rugby World Cup matches.
Deschamps and his side will then head to Germany to play the Euro 2024 hosts in a friendly in Dortmund on September 12.
Among the players missing from the squad are Christopher Nkunku and Wesley Fofana, with the Chelsea duo both currently sidelined with knee injuries.
Deschamps has also chosen not to recall N’Golo Kante, despite the once key midfielder having shaken off the injury that ruined his last season at Chelsea.
Kante is now playing regularly for Al Ittihad in Saudi Arabia but is missing from the squad along with fellow 2018 World Cup winner Paul Pogba, who is also back playing again after an injury-hit last campaign.
“Kante has been playing regularly in a league that is of a good level thanks to the players who are there, but he is coming off the back of a season in which he hardly played at all,” said Deschamps.
“He is available to be called up but for this get-together I decided to stick with the younger players who have so far showed they can handle playing at the highest level.”
Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defenders: Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Levi Colwill (Chelsea), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan/ITA), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid/ESP), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Al-Ettifaq/KSA), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (Arsenal)
Forwards: Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich/GER), James Maddison (Tottenham), Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Callum Wilson (Newcastle)
Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham United/ENG), Mike Maignan (AC Milan/ITA), Brice Samba (Lens)
Defenders: Axel Disasi (Chelsea/ENG), Lucas Hernandez (Paris Saint-Germain), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan/ITA), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool/ENG), Jules Kounde (Barcelona/ESP), Benjamin Pavard (Inter Milan/ITA), William Saliba (Arsenal/ENG), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich/GER)
Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid/ESP), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Boubacar Kamara (Aston Villa/ENG), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus/ITA), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid/ESP)
Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich/GER), Ousmane Dembele (Paris Saint-Germain), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan/ITA), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcus Thuram (Inter Milan/ITA)