England squad announced with four fresh faces but Kalvin Phillips sweating over Euros axe


Ivan Toney has been brought back into the England side for the March international break, with Jarrad Branthwaite handed a first-ever call-up. But there is no spot for long-time Gareth Southgate favourite Kalvin Phillips, who has been axed from the squad following a dismal spell at West Ham United.

Southgate hasn’t been afraid to make some big changes ahead of the Euros, with plenty of fresh faces brought into the squad. Alongside Branthwaite and Toney, Anthony Gordon has been given his first call-up, while Liverpool ace Joe Gomez is back in the side after a three-year hiatus. Elsewhere, Lewis Dunk, who was named in the November squad before pulling out with injury, is also named, while John Stones returns to the international side for the first time since October.

However, the biggest talking point from the squad announcement is the absence of Phillips. The midfielder left Manchester City on loan in the January window in search of game time ahead of the summer tournament but has endured a nightmare spell since joining West Ham. A one-time favourite of manager Southgate, the ex-Leeds United ace now faces a race against time to make it back into the squad for the Euros.

All of the usual big hitters have been named too. Jordan Pickford retains his spot, despite a rocky run of form with Everton, with Sam Johnstone and Aaron Ramsdale named as the other two goalkeepers. Whereas Branthwaite, Dunk, Gomez, Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker, Ezri Konsa and Ben Chilwell make up the rest of the defenders.

In midfield, Jude Bellingham headlines the picks, alongside Conor Gallagher, Declan Rice, James Maddison and Jordan Henderson. The ex-Liverpool skipper has retained his spot, despite a well-publicised move to Ajax in the January transfer window, which came about after a failed spell at Saudi Arabian side Al-Ettifaq.

While skipper Harry Kane is joined by Toney, Gordon, Phil Foden, Jarrod Bowen, Cole Palmer, Bukayo Saka, Ollie Watkins and Marcus Rashford in the attack. Rashford has netted twice in as many outings for Manchester United - something which will be welcomed by Southgate ahead of the summer.

Commenting on the squad announcement, Southgate said: “Unfortunately his [Phillips’] form just hasn't been good enough, I've spoken to him about that and he understands. He knows exactly what we think of him. A good version of him is an important player for us. We don't have many players of that profile."

Southgate was then asked how Toney, whose last call-up was in March of last year, would fit into his plans for the England team going forward: “That would depend on what cover we need. What the profile of the rest of the squad is, whether we need players that can play in a few other positions but Ivan [Toney] is a contender in that role.”

He then later added: “He’s [Branthwaite] good with the ball, shows good composure, good mentality. He’s a left-footer and we don’t have many left-footed defenders. He’s in on merit and we’re keen to find out more about him.”

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