Chelsea winger Raheem Sterling has been left out of the England squad for the European Championship qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia.
Sterling has struggled with a dip in form and injuries since moving to Stamford Bridge last summer and was set to be left out for next month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia.
Southgate explained, after chatting to the player, that it was decided Sterling would be left out of the squad due to his own concerns over his fitness.
“I spoke with him a week or so ago.”
“A general catch-up. He’s not happy physically with his condition, been carrying a hamstring problem.
He wasn’t in consideration. He doesn’t think he’s operating at the level he needs.”
Crystal Palace midfielder Eberechi Eze has earned his first England call-up following a brilliant end to the season under Roy Hodgson.
There is also no place for Arsenal’s Ben White or Tottenham’s Eric Dier but Harry Maguire does get the call despite his struggles at Manchester United, along with returns for Brighton’s Lewis Dunk and Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings.
White left the England camp at the Qatar World Cup for personal reasons and was then left out of the squad to face Italy and Ukraine in March, but Southgate has said the door is still open for him at international level.
Callum Wilson has returned, after missing the last squad through injury, when Ivan Toney – now banned – was picked.
Southgate is thought to have held talks with Sterling over the decision to omit him.
Sterling has been a senior player in the set-up under Southgate, who hopes the forward will benefit from a longer break this summer to properly recuperate.
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Sterling has endured a disrupted year since his £50million move from Manchester City and recently admitted this season has been “one of the lowest points in my career”.
He has had to deal with three changes of head coach at Chelsea and flew home from the World Cup after his house had been burgled, later returning to the tournament.
Sterling missed England matches against Italy and Ukraine in March because of injury, and he was set to be left out for games away to Malta on June 16 and at Old Trafford three days later against North Macedonia.
Injuries and Manchester City’s progress to the Champions League Final on June 10 have complicated Southgate’s plans for the games.
Chelsea trio Mason Mount, Reece James and Ben Chilwell are all unlikely to play again this season.
Southgate is set to leave City’s England contingent of John Stones, Kyle Walker, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Kalvin Phillips out for the Malta game.
England Full Squad
Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Lewis Dunk (Brighton & Hove Albion), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham United)
Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), James Maddison (Leicester City), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Callum Wilson (Newcastle United)