Gareth Southgate explains why Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho didn’t make Croatia squad
Gareth Southgate has named his first England XI for the Euro 2020 campaign, making some intriguing decisions for their opener against Croatia.
There is no place in the starting line-up for Jack Grealish, Kieran Trippier – a right-back by trade – was picked at left-back ahead of regular specialists Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell, with the latter not even making the matchday squad.
Chelsea star Chilwell found himself on the fringes of the first squad of the tournament, with three of the full 26-man squad unable to be named as part of the teamsheet in every match.
Harry Maguire – the Manchester United captain – is not fit so he misses out, while Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho has also been left out by Southgate.
Eyebrows were raised at Chilwell’s ommission, given he had won a Champions League title with his club earlier this month, while Sancho has been in wonderful form in the Bundesliga.
And curiously, two goalkeepers were named on the bench, with Dean Henderson and Sam Johnstone both included.
Explaining the decision to leave Chilwell and Sancho – neither of whom are injured – out, Southgate said: ‘With the two boys that are out of the squad, it’s just unfortunate we can only name 23 and we’ve had to cover certain positions.
‘I don’t like the fact we’re having to leave players out of the squad in a major tournament.’
Of those who have made the team, Everton’s Jordan Pickford – a hero of the 2018 World Cup – starts in goal in front of a backline of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Tyrone Mings and Trippier.
Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips will be tasked with restricting a quality Croatia midfield, which contains Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic, Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic.
Mason Mount will link up play between midfield and attack, with Manchester City duo Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden providing support for Tottenham Hotspur skipper Harry Kane.
Explaining his attacking selection, Southgate added: ‘That was out front six in our games in March and we had some continuity from those games.
‘They have an understanding and they have fabulous depth. We know Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish are really pushing for starting positions this is going to be a game where substitutes are more important than ever.’