London: Raheem Sterling was left out of England’s squad for their final Euro 2024 qualifiers as manager Gareth Southgate resisted the temptation to make changes.
Southgate’s side are already assured of a spot in next year’s finals in Germany but the 25-man group for a home game against Malta on November 17 and a trip to North Macedonia three days later was full of familiar names.
Manchester City defender John Stones misses out through injury but was not replaced while Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah, who has an ankle issue, is replaced by Newcastle’s Callum Wilson.
Southgate said the door remained open for Chelsea attacker Sterling, who has now missed the past five international camps since being part of the squad for the World Cup in Qatar last year.
“The door is 100 per cent open not only for Raheem but for other players not in the squad,” said Southgate.
“We don’t need to know about his quality, his personality. He is a crucial part of why we’ve had the journey we’ve had over the last few years.
“I can only repeat what I have said in the meetings, we’re playing exceptionally well and who can I leave out?”
Southgate expressed his disappointment that Stones had sustained another injury and revealed Chelsea defender Reece James asked not to be included in the squad after only recently returning to action after a hamstring issue.
“I am really disappointed for John,” Southgate said.
“The quality of his play is outstanding. He’s having a difficult time injury-wise at the moment, but it gives others an opportunity and we do need to know a little bit more about other players in that area of the pitch.”
Southgate added: “I was hoping to call Reece James, but he doesn’t feel he is quite ready and I understand that.”
There are injury doubts over James Maddison, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Wilson.
Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defenders: 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: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich/GER), James Maddison (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa), Callum Wilson (Newcastle).