It is all change in the England squad, with two players dropping out, and Emile Smith Rowe earning a first senior call up from Gareth Southgate.

Smith Rowe has been in excellent form for Arsenal this season, but was not initially included in Southgate's squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.

The midfielder, who was handed Arsenal's number 10 shirt for 2021-22, has appeared in every Premier League game for the Gunners this term.

His tally of 15 chances created ranks him second in Arsenal's squad, behind Bukayo Saka (19). He has provided two league assists and scored four goals, meaning he is the club's joint-top scorer in the top flight alongside captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

After initially arriving at St George's Park to be part of the England Under-21 squad, Smith Rowe will instead join the senior side after Marcus Rashford and James Ward-Prowse dropped out.

Rashford has only just returned from a long injury lay off following shoulder surgery, and will remain at Manchester United in order to work his way back to fitness, while Southampton's Ward-Prowse is ill.

Southgate might also be without regulars Luke Shaw and Mason Mount. The United full-back is following concussion protocol after sustaining a head injury in Saturday's derby defeat to Manchester City and will continue to be assessed by the club before being released for international duty. 

Mount, meanwhile, has had his arrival pushed back by dental surgery and will be monitored over the coming days.

England host Albania on Friday, before taking on San Marino three days later. Four points from the two matches will guarantee their place in Qatar.

Marcus Rashford and Jude Bellingham have been recalled to Gareth Southgate's England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, but Jadon Sancho and his Manchester United team-mate Jesse Lingard miss out.

England require just four points to qualify for Qatar 2022 from the visit of Albania on Friday November 12 and their final qualifier away to San Marino three days later.

It is Rashford's first call-up since his missed penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout defeat to Italy as he has only recently recovered from shoulder surgery, while Bellingham comes back into the squad after being left out for previous games against Andorra and Hungary.

A lack of game time at club level appears to have cost Sancho and Lingard their places in the squad as the United duo miss out.

Speaking after making the squad announcement, Southgate said: "With Mason [Greenwood] I discussed the situation last time, with Jesse and Jadon they just aren't playing a lot of football compared to the other players in their positions.

"I know people will say I'm inconsistent, but I don't think I am. If you're playing regularly for your club you've got a much better chance of us assessing your level compared to the rest of the group."

Elsewhere, Harry Maguire, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James and Kalvin Phillips also come back into the 25-man squad, while Kieran Trippier, Fikayo Tomori and Ollie Watkins are left out.

England squad in full:

Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton); Tammy Abraham (Roma), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Team GB sprint star Dina Asher-Smith hailed Marcus Rashford and his England team-mates for "showing a really good sense of moral leadership for our nation".

Manchester United striker Rashford earned plaudits for his work lobbying the government to provide free school meals during the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, while he and the rest of the Three Lions squad who reached the final of Euro 2020 this month were also vocal in the fight against racism, continuing to take a knee throughout the tournament in a united showing against racial prejudice.

Asher-Smith, who will be going for gold in the 100 and 200 metres at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has herself spoken out about her experiences of racism and in March she received the column of the year award by the International Sport Press Association for an article she wrote in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder.

She has also been a vocal supporter of the protests taken by Naomi Osaka and Lewis Hamilton in the past and the 25-year-old, a die-hard Red Devils supporter, hopes to do more in the area of social activism once the Olympics have finished.

"I think what Marcus and all the other players have been doing is fantastic and it made me so proud to watch them and see how they conducted themselves," Asher-Smith told a roundtable of journalists at a pre-Games Team GB call.

"I think they've done fantastically throughout the Euros. I think they surpassed all our expectations in the nicest way.

"They are actually a credit to our nation and showing a really good sense of moral leadership for our nation and I think as sports people we are really proud and definitely as a Brit, and a black Brit, especially throughout the Euros I was really proud of them. I think they represented both the nation and our community incredibly well.

"Social activism is something I'd love to increase, but with the Olympics and everything I've been one-track minded towards Tokyo. But definitely once we're past this point, because I definitely compartmentalise things, when I'm over this little compartment of my life that's definitely something I want to increase because you do have to give back.

"I think it's an essential part of being not only an athlete but someone who has had an opportunity and the only reason I'm here today is because of the good will and hard work of so many other people in teams and throughout my community and so many opportunities I've had, whether that's grants or school teachers taking extra time to take me to a club or telling me about a club.

"It's goodwill of other people so it would be entirely selfish to not give back when you have the opportunity to in your career and I'm really proud of how the footballers have done that throughout the year and how they conducted themselves throughout the Euros." 

 

Athletes competing in Tokyo are set to have more scope to protest at the upcoming Olympics after the IOC relaxed its controversial Rule 50, which previously forbade any "demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas".

The IOC will allow athletes to make protests prior to competitions starting, though anyone doing so on podiums or medal ceremonies – similar to the famous Black Power salute made by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics – could face sanctions.

Asher-Smith always expected a climb down, adding: "I think to see the IOC lifted the ban, I was entirely unsurprised. 

"Protesting I see as a fundamental human right, so if you were to penalise someone for standing up against racial inequality how on earth would that go? You know what I mean? How on earth would you enforce that? 

"Would you revoke somebody's medal for saying racism is wrong? I honestly thought that was always going to happen otherwise they would have just been faced with loads of athlete protests at the Games and it would have been really embarrassing, you can't really tell people not to.

"Unless they want to say they're against people saying they're against racism I didn't know how that was going to go.

"Some of the Olympics' most iconic moments have been the Black Power salute by Tommie Smith way back when, and that is something people remember the Olympics for, that's something they're very proud to see at the Olympic Games."

Asher-Smith, the reigning 200m world champion, also hopes she can play her part in inspiring young women to take part in sports over the course of the next two weeks.

"I think the next fortnight has great potential to inspire an entire generation of young women as we do with every Olympics," she said.

"But I think it's becoming increasingly important nowadays. We have significant drop-off rates of young women.

"They hit teenage years, they're all very active in the sporting field or active world, then they hit between 11 and 15 and drop out in their droves.

"Then it's under 10 per cent get enough exercise or get the government recommended guidelines of exercise and engage on aesthetic grounds rather than having fun. 

"I hope the next fortnight shows not only can you make a viable career out of this. Being a sportswoman in whatever you want to do is a viable career it's not just track and field, it's not just tennis, it's not just football there are many avenues you can go down to be a career sportswoman. 

"But also that it's fun, that it can completely change your life, develop lifelong friendships, it's not just about doing sport for a physical goal to lose weight, to gain this, to alter your body but also for self-esteem, your mind, your mental health and to live a fulfilled and enriched life. 

"I think the Olympic Games has an incredible chance to inspire so many women and also women who have had babies, and the Paralympics as well, women who have very different life circumstances to all of us, so I think it's a great platform and showcase for all the sports we love."

Gianfranco Zola believes there is little prospect of social media platforms becoming safe spaces for sports stars, warning: "Bad people will always be there."

England footballers Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were subjected to racist abuse online after their penalty shoot-out misses in the Euro 2020 final.

Those failures from the spot helped Italy to land their second European Championship triumph.

There have been calls for the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to police their platforms more effectively, with 19-year-old Saka urging the three tech giants to each step up their game.

Former Italy and Chelsea forward Zola told Stats Perform: "Racial abuse is unjustifiable, unforgivable and unacceptable. I reckon that youngsters have to understand very quick that not all people they come across on social media are good.

"They use it to provoke, insult, abuse and vent their daily frustrations. We have to get used to it and learn how to isolate from this. Especially young people who are famous like footballers.

"These are all unjustifiable attacks but we have to learn how to isolate from it all because these bad people will always be there."

Zola, who enjoyed a seven-year spell at Chelsea and collected 35 caps for the Azzurri, explained there is a "dark side of social media".

He said: "Many people use [social media] in an absurd way and can cause damage to kids who are on social media and are not ready to accept all this.

"If you are into social media, you have to be aware these can be used by people to insult and destabilise. This is the dark side."

Kieran Gibbs took strength from the pushback against the racism aimed at Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka after England's penalties heartbreak.

Former England defender Gibbs, who was speaking at his Inter Miami presentation, believes the fallout from the Euro 2020 final highlighted the best and worst of society in his home country.

Saka said on Thursday that he "knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive", and called on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to tighten up controls over content on their platforms.

Sancho and Rashford have also spoken out powerfully this week. A mural of Rashford's image in Manchester was defaced before it became a positive focal point in the local community, with messages of praise, sympathy and solidarity posted on the wall.

"I'm pleased with the reaction from the country," said Gibbs. "Maybe not the initial reaction. Obviously, most things these days are spoiled by a few individuals.

"But the way everyone has responded is testament to the country and where we're at in society.

"i was really pleased to see that, especially being on this side of the water when the game was on.

"I still felt that attachment from home and it was great to see."

Gibbs is relishing his chance to make an impact in Major League Soccer, joining a team who have made a slow start to their second campaign, collecting only eight points from 11 games under Phil Neville's leadership.

 

They have scored just nine goals and conceded 17 already. Neville's side are slightly underperforming against their expected goals (11.3 xG) and expected goals against (16.3 xGA) figures.

Gibbs, 31, who made over 200 appearances for Arsenal before joining West Brom in 2017, will be expected to add strength to the defensive unit.

Inter Miami will also be hoping Gibbs can turn back the clock and bring some of his creative spark to MLS.

In 2017-18, the last campaign where he made more than 20 top-flight appearances, Gibbs created 22 goalscoring chances from his left-back station for West Brom. That was the fourth highest number on the team.

 

Gibbs said of his move to Miami: "It's just a challenge for me to grow as a person off the pitch.

"I've been in the UK all my life and had everything done for me in a way because that's the route that you go down.

"I want to try and explore a different side of life, a challenge of setting up a new life somewhere else and seeing how it goes. I felt that this was the best place to do that.

"I come here humble, I don't want any expectation, I just come willing to give 100 per cent and the rest will be history."

Gibbs could make his debut for Inter Miami on Saturday as Neville takes his struggling team on the road to face the New York Red Bulls.

Former Football Association (FA) chairman David Triesman believes the UK government must act to enforce tougher measures to prevent online racial abuse.

England players Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho were all targeted with racial abuse on social media following the Three Lions' penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.

The FA and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson released statements condemning the abuse, while Gareth Southgate and England captain Harry Kane reiterated the stance of England's squad, who have taken the knee prior to kick-off in every game of Euro 2020.

A mural of Rashford in Manchester was also defaced, though well-wishers covered the graffiti with messages of support for the 23-year-old, whose efforts off the pitch have resulted in a government policy shift over the last year.

But Triesman, a member of the House of Lords who was the FA's chairman from 2008 to 2010, insists now is the time for stricter action.

"Well, it is a way in which people show their beliefs and their solidarity with their colleagues who come from different ethnic backgrounds and that's not a bad thing," Triesman told Stats Perform when asked for his views on England taking the knee.

"The fact that people do something that's visible together, I don't think is a bad thing. But I think what we must get past is politicians saying that they don't like it or saying that it's outrageous, and saying it [racism] cannot be tolerated, and then doing nothing about it, which is tantamount to tolerating it.

"And that's why I think it has to be translated into action. I really, I think it's true in many things in life, it's certainly true in politics, but it's true in football as well. It's not so much what you say, it's what you do. It's when people see what you do, and they can see what you say and what you're doing are the same thing.

"The change will only come if the football authorities and political authorities come together and say they are going to make changes and spell out what those changes are.

"I think that part of this has to be a legislative change in which the people who run the media platforms so often just describe themselves as the postman, they don't know what's under the envelope. I don't buy that at all. That's a recipe for seeing children abused online. It's a recipe for bullying. 

"We've seen all of these things. It's not like they're a mystery to us anymore and I think the media platforms have got to be held to account, even if it means that a very rich source of the material that goes on to them is simply cut off. There's a point at which people have to face their responsibilities."

Triesman added that the onus is also on the FA to take tougher action, as well as lobbying the government.

"If we catch them in grounds being racist and abusive, that should be the last day they get into a ground to see football," he continued.

"Stamp it out. Football can do a lot of this itself. But if it needs extra powers – if I was still at the FA I would be knocking on the door of government today saying, 'Here are the powers I've got, I'm going to use them. If I think they're deficient, I want more powers, because I'm absolutely determined'."

Marcus Rashford has posted an emotional thanks for the support he has received following his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final, despite the Manchester United forward having been the recipient of racial abuse.

Rashford hit the post with his spot-kick in England's 3-2 shoot-out defeat to Italy – Gianluigi Donnarumma subsequently saving efforts from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

United star Rashford had been introduced by Gareth Southgate in the dying embers of extra time at Wembley, seemingly specifically with penalties in mind.

After the game, the 23-year-old – whose fight for children to have access to free school meals has led to a shift in UK government policy – along with Saka, Sancho and Raheem Sterling, was targetted by hateful messages on social media.

Channel 4, quoting a report by data company Signify, claimed close to 2,000 racially abusive tweets had been sent to the four players.

Southgate, the Football Association (FA) and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson all condemned the perpetrators, while England captain Harry Kane insisted anybody posting such messages was not wanted by the team as a supporter.

Meanwhile, a mural of Rashford in Withington, Manchester, was defaced overnight.

However, supporters of Rashford have since covered the graffiti with messages of support, while United's official Twitter account posted: "We're all behind you, @MarcusRashford.

"As a player. As a person. As an inspiration to our club and our supporters. As a representation of hope that there is plenty more good than bad in the world."

On Monday, Rashford posted an emotional message, firstly apologising for his missed penalty.

"I don't even know where to start and I don't even know how to put into words how I'm feeling at this exact time," Rashford wrote.

"I've had a difficult season, I think that's been clear for everyone to see and I probably went into that final with a lack of confidence. I've always backed myself for a penalty but something didn't feel quite right.

"During the long run up I was saving myself a bit of time and unfortunately the result was not what I wanted. I felt as though I had let my team-mates down. I felt as if I'd let everyone down.

"A penalty was all I'd been asked to contribute for the team. I can score penalties in my sleep so why not that one? It's been playing in my head over and over since I struck the ball and there's probably not a word to quite describe how it feels. Final. 55 years. One penalty. History.

"All I can say is sorry. I wish it had of [sic] gone differently. Whilst I continue to say sorry I want to shout out my team-mates. This summer has been one of the best camps I've experienced and you've all played a role in that. A brotherhood has been built that is unbreakable. Your success is my success. Your failures are mine."

He then went on to thank the well-wishers for their support, though reiterated he would never apologise for "who I am and where I came from."

“I've grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up, or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch," Rashford continued.

"I've felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands. I dreamt of days like this. The messages I've received today have been positively overwhelming and seeing the response in Withington had me on the verge of tears.

"The communities that always wrapped their arms around me continue to hold me up. I'm Marcus Rashford, 23 year old, black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that."

Gareth Southgate wants his England squad to heal together following the pain of losing the Euro 2020 final - and insisted abuse aimed towards any of his players is "unforgiveable".

England's hopes of glory at Wembley on Sunday were dashed by Italy in a penalty shoot-out, during which substitutes Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka failed to convert from the spot.

The trio were targets for racist online abuse in the aftermath to the match. The Football Association condemned such behaviour in a strongly worded statement, as well as calling on both the government and social media companies to take action to stop such incidents continuing to occur.

Speaking the morning after his team's heartbreaking defeat, England boss Southgate made clear his squad had been a "beacon of light" during the European Championship, helping unite the nation during their impressive run.

"I'm not totally across everything, but my first thoughts this morning are with the boys that have done so well for us," he said.

"The players have had such a great togetherness and spirit and brought our country together. They should be, and I think they are, incredibly proud of what they have done.

"For some of them to be abused is unforgivable. Some of it has come from abroad, we have been told this, but some of it is from this country.

"It's not what we stand for. We have been a beacon of light to bring people together and the national team stands for everybody. That togetherness has to continue.

"We felt the energy and positivity from the fans and I'm incredibly proud of that."

Southgate added: "We heal together as a team now, we are there for them [the players who missed penalties] and I know that 99 per cent of the public will be as well, because they will appreciate how well they have played."

 

England seized an early lead thanks to Luke Shaw's first international goal after less than two minutes but were pegged back by Leonardo Bonucci's second-half equaliser, forcing extra time.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved penalties from Andrea Belotti and Jorginho, yet Saka saw his attempt - England's fifth - turned away by Gianluigi Donnarumma, meaning Italy prevailed 3-2 at the end of an dramatic shoot-out.

While his focus will have to quickly switch to securing qualification for next year's World Cup in Qatar, Southgate admitted he is in need of a break.

Asked about reports he could be offered a new contract, Southgate replied: "I don't think now is an appropriate time to be thinking about it.

"We have to qualify for Qatar. I need time to go away and reflect on Euro 2020. I need a rest.

"Its an amazing experience to lead your country in these tournaments, but it takes a toll. I don't want to commit to anything longer than I should. It's not a financial thing.

"I don't want to outstay my welcome. But, as I sit here today, I would be wanting to take the team to Qatar."

Gareth Southgate acknowledged it was a "gamble" to bring on substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho to take penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

England suffered a 3-2 defeat to Italy in the shootout, after the match finished 1-1, with Rashford striking the post before Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

England have won just 22 per cent (two out of nine) of their major tournament shootouts, the lowest ratio of any European nation to have been involved in three or more.

When asked if Rashford and Sancho, both brought off the bench in extra-time a few minutes before the shootout, might have been "cold", Southgate said the decision was one fraught with danger.

"That is the risk you run but they have been the best in the lead in, and to throw all those attacking players on you have to do it late," he told ITV.

"You have got to have balance to the team. You can't just throw on attacking players earlier, or you lose your shape and don't have a foothold in the game.

"It was a gamble but if we gambled earlier in the game, we maybe lose the game in extra time. I chose the guys to take the kicks."

Southgate revealed England's order for the penalty kicks had already been decided in advance of the Wembley final, and said the decision to let Saka take one was his alone.

He added: "It's my decision to give him that penalty so that is totally my responsibility. Not his. 

"The same with Marcus or Jadon. We work together, worked through them in training, that was the order that we came to.

"I said afterwards that nobody was on their own in that situation [missing a penalty]. 

"We decided to make the changes late in the game and we lose together as a team. The players have been tight throughout and that's how it will stay."

Southgate said he was proud of England's overall display in the tournament although felt they were poor in possession in the final.

"In the end we were not quite able to see the game through in normal time and Italy showed the outstanding team they are with 30 plus games unbeaten," he explained.

"Our players have to be proud of themselves. Every one of them has been exceptional. First time we have to a final and we are very disappointed not go on a step further.

"Italy have some outstanding players but we didn't keep the ball well enough in that initial period in the second half. We changed the shape to get more of a grip. It was a lack of composure in possession which turned the game."

England will now switch their focus to next year's World Cup in Qatar, although Southgate needs time to let the wounds heal from this defeat.

"It's hard to reflect at this moment because the disappointment is enormous for all us," he said.

"The players have done us proud. The way the nation have got behind us. I know tonight has burst the balloon. But I hope everyone remembers what this group has given them.

"We have given everyone some fantastic nights and we wanted to give them one more and came close to having done that. It's hard for me to put that into words at the moment.

"At this moment it is hard to look that far ahead. This was a wonderful opportunity and we need let that sink in before thinking about Qatar."

Manchester United star Marcus Rashford appeared to confirm Jadon Sancho's blockbuster arrival from Borussia Dortmund via social media on Tuesday.

Sancho has long been linked with a move to United and the Premier League giants are reportedly nearing a deal to sign the England international.

After failing to prise Sancho from Dortmund at the start of 2020-21, United are believed to be on the cusp of finally landing the 21-year-old.

Rashford – on England duty with Sancho at Euro 2020 – seemingly confirmed the proposed transfer on Twitter.

After a Twitter user wrote "Announce Sancho, Marcus", Rashford replied: "Yes x".

Sancho provided eight goals and 11 assists in 26 Bundesliga games, and was the division's fifth most successful chance creator, carving out 67 opportunities.

The former Manchester City sensation ended the 2020-21 season with 16 goals across all competitions as Dortmund finished third in the Bundesliga and reached the Champions League quarter-finals.

Sancho also scored twice in Dortmund's 4-1 DFB-Pokal triumph over RB Leipzig, while supplying an assist for Erling Haaland in the final.

Jose Mourinho does not think Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw should be in England's starting XI to begin Euro 2020.

The former United boss has been involved in media controversies around both players in the past.

Mourinho feels Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell is a better option than Shaw at left-back for England, who open their campaign against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday in a World Cup semi-final rematch.

That is despite Shaw having a fantastic season for United, which saw him recently named the Players' Player of the Year at the club.

"I wouldn't think twice, I'd go with Chilwell," Mourinho told talkSPORT.

"I know that he plays normally with Chelsea in a five, but he is intelligent, he covers the space and the diagonals inside very well, he's dangerous in attack, he's good in the air and good on set pieces.

"He can defend well the possible long build up from Croatia on the first phase. He is very calm under pressure. I like Chilwell a lot.

"[Shaw] had a good season and clearly an evolution in terms of emotion, professionalism. But Chilwell has something more, especially with the ball, the way he thinks." 

The new Roma boss also feels Rashford's only positional option is to play on the left of attack, where he would prefer to line up with Aston Villa star Jack Grealish.

Mourinho believes Grealish is an "untouchable" selection and compared his play to that of Real Madrid great Luis Figo.

United target Jadon Sancho was not in Mourinho's team, which does include Manchester City star Phil Foden and Harry Kane, who thrived under his management at Tottenham.

Rashford scored against Romania in the 1-0 friendly win last week but Mourinho said: "Harry Kane is untouchable, Jack Grealish is untouchable and the best position for Grealish is coming in from the left.

"For me, Marcus Rashford can only play there. When he plays on the right, he is completely lost.

"He is dynamic but on the right totally broken. He is very good on the left attacking spaces. But Grealish, for me, is tremendous.

"What he creates and his personality – 'give me the ball' – he reminds me a little bit of Luis Figo.

"I don't like making comparisons, especially with a Golden Ball winner, but Grealish reminds me of my Figo.

"Figo, I had him in different periods in my career but I had him in his last season as a player at Inter Milan and even in his last season he was like, 'Give me the ball and I will resolve the problems for you'.

"The way Grealish gets the ball and attacks people, gets fouls, gets penalties, he is very powerful, I like him very much.

"So I would say Grealish on the left, Mason Mount as the number 10 and because I like the wingers to come inside, I would play Phil Foden on the right."

One United player who would be in Mourinho's starting team, though, is goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who he would start over Jordan Pickford.

"I am a Henderson fan," said Mourinho. "When I was at United he was a kid, and I tell this story because it shows his nature.

"He came to my office asking for a loan, he went to Shrewsbury, but this kid said to me then, 'When I come back, I want to be number one'.

"We looked at each other because we had [David] de Gea and this kid never played one game, but he has had incredible development.

"The loans were all very successful. The way United organised them I think United did amazing for him and he did amazing for himself.

"He has this arrogance in him, this trust and belief which I think an England goalkeeper needs."

Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips were Mourinho's two central midfielders.

Mourinho, though, would like to see Jude Bellingham play alongside Rice as the tournament progresses, describing the Borussia Dortmund prospect as "perfect" for such a role.

Kyle Walker, Tyrone Mings and John Stones made up the rest of his back four alongisde Chilwell.

England, who are in Group D, also face Scotland on June 18 and the Czech Republic on June 22.

England beat Romania 1-0 thanks to a Marcus Rashford penalty in their final pre-Euro 2020 warm-up match but the game was once again marred by supporters booing the Three Lions for taking the knee.

Fans jeered England players for showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement at the start of the 1-0 win over Austria earlier in the week, and despite Gareth Southgate clearly explaining on Saturday that his team's gesture was motivated by racial injustice rather than politics, boos were clearly audible once more at the Riverside Stadium.

Potentially deflated by those fans' blatant disregard for the team's feelings, perhaps England's rather subdued start in Middlesbrough had a straightforward explanation, with Southgate's side not posing much of a threat until Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jadon Sancho hit the crossbar after the half-hour mark.

The visitors looked as much of an attacking threat as England, but good work from Jack Grealish earned a penalty with 22 minutes to go and Rashford – captain for the day – converted with aplomb, with Jordan Henderson unable to follow suit from the spot a little later.

Romania looked much sharper than England initially, with Denis Alibec shooting just wide of the top-right corner and Razvan Marin firing at Sam Johnstone following a flowing move.

Florin Nita in the visitors' net had very little to do before having the bar come to his rescue in the 32nd minute, keeping out a ferocious Calvert-Lewin header, and then again six minutes later as Sancho's bending effort following a clever offload by Grealish had left the goalkeeper looking helpless.

But Romania still posed a threat at the other end, with Deian Sorescu testing Johnstone after being released in behind the suspect Tyrone Mings.

An encouraging aspect was the performance of Rashford, who after a difficult spell at club level, did well in the 62nd minute as he collected Calvert-Lewin's lay-off and burst into the Romania half before shooting wide on the stretch after a lung-busting run.

Rashford was decisive soon after, however, coolly slotting in a penalty after Grealish – who was fouled on five occasions more than anyone else – found himself tripped by Tiberiu Capusa.

Henderson, introduced at half-time for his first outing since February, passed up the chance to make it 2-0 from the spot as Nita saved his kick following a foul on Calvert-Lewin by Vlad Chiriches.

That came hot on the heels of Johnstone producing a wonderful stop to thwart Andrei Ivan, with England ultimately settling for the 1-0 win.

Rio Ferdinand has questioned Gareth Southgate's decision to include Harry Maguire in England's Euro 2020 squad and says Marcus Rashford should not be considered for a starting spot.

Maguire was this week named as part of England's final 26-man squad for the tournament, despite missing Manchester United's final five games of the season – including the Europa League final loss to Villarreal – with ankle ligament damage.

He has yet to take part in training since linking up with his Three Lions team-mates, with Southgate admitting on Tuesday he is unsure if the defender will be ready for the Group D opener against Croatia on June 13.

With fears Maguire may not be fit enough to play any part in the group phase, former United centre-back Ferdinand does not believe Maguire should have been selected at the expense of another defender.

"Harry is important from set-pieces, as he showed at the World Cup. But I have to be honest, I wouldn't take players that are 50 per cent fit," said Ferdinand, who was speaking to Stats Perform on behalf of Heineken, an official UEFA Euro 2020 partner. 

"If I'm worried about a player being able to make 90 minutes, I wouldn't take them. Too much energy goes into talking about it and worrying about it, that it takes the focus off what you are there for as a team."

Who to play alongside John Stones in the heart of defence should Maguire fail to win his fitness battle is not the only big selection call Southgate has to make ahead of Euro 2020 getting under way next week.

The England boss is spoiled for choice in the final third, with Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all battling for starting spots alongside captain Harry Kane.

Rashford has scored four goals in his last five appearances for England, but he struggled with a niggling injury issue towards the end of last season and Ferdinand would hold off from using the versatile forward until later in the tournament.

"If you're looking at form, I think Marcus probably doesn't deserve to start," Ferdinand said. "I think of the players around him in that position, Sancho and Foden should be picked in terms of form.

"I don't know much about Gareth's relationship with them players and what they've done in the past for him, and his confidence in certain players. Also, tactically how the game looks, who he is going to play. 

"In terms of form, I think he's scored one in nine or 10 games at the end of the season [for United]. I think he's a bit fatigued and I think he's been carrying a few injuries. I'd like to see him recuperating in this little period of time off, and then come into it fresh."

Of those eight players vying for a starting role in the final third, Aston Villa playmaker Grealish and Borussia Dortmund's Sancho lead the way in terms of big chances created in the league during the 2020-21 campaign with 14 each.

Despite missing 12 matches, Grealish was by far and away the most fouled player in the Premier League last season (110 fouls won), while his 2.68 dribbles completed per 90 minutes was bettered by just six players to have played at least 20 times.

Only Belgium (40) scored more goals than England's 37 in qualifying for Euro 2020 and Ferdinand is particularly excited by the attacking options available to choose from.

"In terms of wide players, we must have some of the biggest talent," he said. "We've got Foden, Sterling, Rashford, Grealish, Sancho, and Mount can play there as well – so six of the most talented, impactful players that are playing at the moment. 

"You look at Sancho, over the last three years has got 30 goal involvements every year, which is astounding for a kid who had been 21 and under. 

"Jack Grealish has been one of the hardest to combat players in the Premier League when he's fit. Phil Foden is deciding games in Champions League knockout stages, for one so young, and Man City are dominating in midfield. 

"It's crazy. You've also got Sterling, with what he's done over the last three years, his trophy haul that he's building at the moment is up there with the best. Those young players, it's mouthwatering."

While a number of positions are up for debate, it is certain that captain Kane – who topped the scoring charts in qualifying – will lead the line for the Three Lions.

Kane won his third Golden Boot after scoring 23 times in 2020-21, becoming the third player after Thierry Henry (four) and Alan Shearer to achieve such a feat.

He also set up 14 goals to become just the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists (also Andy Cole in 1993-94).

The Tottenham striker's future is a hot topic of debate heading into the tournament after recently admitting he is at a "crossroads" in his career, but Ferdinand does not expect that to have any sort of impact on his performances.

"It happens to the best players," he said. "These players we're talking about with speculation, like Sancho and Kane, they have this every day of the week. This is normal for them, they are just in a tournament, that's the only difference.

"I think Harry has shown he enjoys wearing the armband. He enjoys the responsibility, some players grow with it. This tournament, I'd like to see that."

 

Ferdinand was speaking as part of Heineken's 'Enjoy the Rivalry' campaign, which encourages fans to watch Euro 2020 matches alongside their rivals.

The United legend was pranked by fellow former pro Robbie Savage as part of the initiative, culminating in the ex-England international having his portrait draped in a flag of rivals Wales.

"I was a bit surprised, I've got to be honest," he said. "I was probably being a bit too polite because there were two young ladies in front of me and I didn't want to be... well I saw the Welsh flag and I thought what are these people playing at?

"They don't understand the rivalry that we have with Wales and all of a sudden they drape me in a Welsh flag. It was weird.

"I think 'finally together again to be rivals', is a perfect strapline. I think everyone's waited for this opportunity, to have some sort of rivalry with teams, with people, with individuals."

The year-long delay to Euro 2020 has shifted the narrative for a host of stars, and meant the long wait for a return to the big stage has been extended for others.

Now, though, Europe's elite are set to battle it out as Portugal defend the title they won in France five years ago.

Some players enter the competition in great form and with little baggage, but for others this month-long tournament is a chance to make a big splash, or live up to long-held expectations.

Here, Stats Perform looks at two famous footballing nations, four big-name stars and a coach who bows out of his current job and may have designs on his next assignment.

Gareth Bale: Finished or a new beginning?

The wing wizard can do little wrong in the eyes of Wales and Tottenham supporters, and perhaps now there is a glimmer of hope for his Real Madrid career.

At the end of a season-long loan at Spurs, it seemed likely Bale would head back to Madrid and spend the final year of his contract largely on the sidelines. His future looked to be one of training, playing the odd Copa del Rey game and making fleeting LaLiga appearances, and spending his happiest hours on the region's best golf courses.

Now that Zinedine Zidane has moved on, that could change all of a sudden, and Bale has an immediate chance to make an impression on new Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti when he captains Wales at the Euros.

Bale joined Madrid in 2013, when Ancelotti was embarking on his first spell at the Santiago Bernabeu, but his career in Spain looked to have all but conked out 12 months ago.

The door certainly seems open for the 31-year-old to do just that as, in his presentation news conference at Madrid, Ancelotti said: "Gareth has not played much in the Premier League [in 2020-21], but he scored lots of goals, and was very effective in recent games when he had a chance to play.

"He is coming back, I know him very well, he will be motivated to play better and have a great season, no doubt."

At Spurs, he scored 16 goals across all competitions at an average of one every 104.44 minutes, and his match fitness appeared to be building up nicely when the season ended.

Bale exceeded his expected goals (xG) total of 11.07 quite handsomely, and for the first time since the 2015-16 season he scored more goals than he had big chances.

He had 15 such chances, defined by Opta as situations "where a player should reasonably be expected to score".

Bale is said by some observers to be considering retiring after Euro 2020, but that could be a waste of a still-luminous talent and Ancelotti is sure to be closely watching.

Eden Hazard: Brilliant Belgian has been a Real disappointment

So often sparkling for Belgium and Chelsea in the past, Hazard has left Madrid supporters wondering what has happened to that fizz since he landed in Spain.

He started just seven games in LaLiga in the season just ended, a string of muscle injuries and a spell out with COVID-19 ruining his campaign.

When fit enough to feature, the forward's numbers have been way down on those that he produced – to take a pertinent example – during Belgium's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

A fair way of assessing his figures is to look at how Hazard contributes for every 90 minutes he is involved with club and country, and the comparison between his displays in Belgium's run to reach this tournament and in 2020-21 at Madrid shows an alarming dip.

His chances created total per 90 minutes falls from 4.6 to 1.0, his number of touches of the ball slides from 95.1 to 73.8, and his dribbles attempted plummet from 7.4 with Belgium to 4.2 in Madrid's season.

His involvements in shot-ending sequences of play fall from 10.8 to 4.9 per 90 minutes, and analysis of goal-ending sequences shows his contribution drops from 1.9 with Belgium to 0.8 per 90 minutes with Madrid.

It bears remembering that Hazard has not had the run of games that would give him full match fitness. If Real Madrid fans want any succour, they can find it in his Belgium statistics and must hope the coming month sees the 30-year-old roll back his form a couple of years.

A fit and firing Hazard would be a huge asset to Ancelotti, who is expecting the former Chelsea star to have an impact next term.

"Hazard is a top player, he has had injury problems, and not shown his top potential yet here," Ancelotti said. "I believe he can do that next year, he wants to, is motivated."

 

Karim Benzema: Have France really missed him?

Nobody doubts Benzema's ability or his current form. Firing 23 goals for Real Madrid in LaLiga showed he is coming into Euro 2020 in great shape.

The thing is: few expected him to play any part in this tournament.

Off-field matters and an impending court case have seen Benzema frozen out by France, the 33-year-old sidelined from international duty since 2015 following allegations he had a part in a plot to blackmail former Les Bleus player Mathieu Valbuena.

Benzema strenuously denies any wrongdoing and for the duration of Euro 2020 he will aim to show what France have been missing in his absence. They managed to win the 2018 World Cup without him, and reach the final of Euro 2016, yet coach Didier Deschamps has decided his team need Benzema's presence for the coming month.

It could be a masterstroke or could go disastrously wrong, with France a national team who have combusted before during a big tournament.

Benzema last year made the snippy remark that Olivier Giroud was a go-kart and he, by contrast, was a Formula One car, but now they are rivals for selection.

Squad harmony is vital at any major championship, and Benzema's presence brings that little extra frisson. This gamble could go either way. Watching him and France will be fascinating.

Marcus Rashford: Making his pitch for a better England

Manchester United striker Rashford has been a pandemic social justice warrior, emerging as an inspirational figure as he battled for school children to avoid food poverty.

There is so much to admire about the 23-year-old Mancunian, who has also faced – and faced down – appalling racism on social media.

It would take a cold, cruel heart to begrudge Rashford a major moment on the pitch now, and that could come with England over the coming weeks.

On the international scene since just before Euro 2016, Rashford is now fixtures-and-fittings within the Three Lions set-up, but he has still yet to score at a World Cup or European Championship.

Before June's pre-Euros friendlies he had 40 caps and 11 goals and will want to improve his so-so goals-to-games ratio, which is partly explained by the fact only 20 of those caps came as a starter.

Golden Boot winner Harry Kane carried so much of the scoring burden for England at the last World Cup, and sometimes it takes two. Rashford scored three times in Euro 2020 qualifying and is coming off a 21-goal campaign with United, scoring on average once every 197.76 minutes.

The man who is effecting positive change in the way many live their lives, influencing politicians and shaping a better future for millions, could now do his country a massive favour on the football field.

 

Scotland: They're back, thanks to Mourinho's former right-hand man

Few in the Scotland team are long enough in the teeth to remember the last time the Tartan Army descended on a major tournament.

It was 1998, with the Scots giving Brazil a major test in the opening game at the Stade de France. A draw followed against Norway followed the 2-1 loss to the Selecao, before a dismal defeat to Morocco meant the campaign ended in crushing disappointment.

Hopes have flickered and foundered in the decades since, but Steve Clarke, once an assistant boss to Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, has led his team back to the big time.

With the likes of Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay and Che Adams, they possess Premier League quality, and two games Hampden promise to be nourishing for the soul.

Scotland is an expectant nation. That tends to end in intense disappointment at major tournaments, but optimism abounds as the games approach, the June 18 clash with England at Wembley ringed in the diary.

Italy: Blue skies again for Azzurri

It felt absurd that Italy should be absent from the 2018 World Cup, but they failed the meritocracy test of qualification when losing a play-off to Sweden.

That meant they were absent from football's great global gathering for the first time since 1958, and coach Gian Piero Ventura was swiftly given the heave-ho.

Enter Roberto Mancini, the former Inter and Manchester City boss who has led a scorching revival of the Azzurri, a team who won all 10 of their qualifiers and headed into June on a 26-game unbeaten run.

Wales, Turkey and Switzerland are the group-stage opposition for Italy, and the Turkey game in Istanbul gets the tournament underway.

They are a team perhaps without a superstar, but as Paolo Rossi and Toto Schillaci would attest, iconic Italian figures can emerge on the big stage.

Joachim Low: Hit for six, Germany go back to the future

After 15 years, Low will step down as Germany head coach following these finals. Many in Germany think he should have stepped aside already, but Low has powerful support within the DFB, the national federation.

A 6-0 defeat to Spain in the Nations League last November felt like an appalling nadir, with Germany outshot 23-2 in Seville and having just 30 per cent of possession.

Something had to change and it has, with Low summoning Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels out of the international exile he harshly imposed on the experienced pair over two years ago.

Low felt he could do without their talents but it proved a major misstep, and for Germany's sake they are back. What Low does next remains to be seen, but a strong Euro 2020 campaign with Germany would bolster his chances of landing any elite club job.

The 61-year-old was a World Cup winner seven years ago, but the most immediately telling part of his legacy will be written during this European summer.

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