Luciano Spalletti is confident reigning continental champions Italy will seize the “right moment” to get the point they need to qualify for Euro 2024 from their showdown with rivals Ukraine in Leverkusen.

The second-placed Azzurri will join Group C winners England in reaching the finals on Monday if they can avoid defeat by Ukraine, who are playing this match in west Germany due to the conflict with Russia in their homeland, as they lead Serhiy Rebrov’s men on goal difference having won the first meeting 2-1 in Milan back in September.

Only a draw in North Macedonia and a 3-1 loss to England left Italy in this vulnerable position as their other results – 4-0 against Malta and 5-2 in Friday’s reverse against the Macedonians – have been more than convincing, and boss Spalletti was also in good form when previewing the crunch BayArena clash.

“The lads are well,” he told reporters. “There’s quality in every department and the potential is great.

“We go to Germany with the knowledge that we can get a result. Some important players have joined back up with us, like (Federico) Chiesa, who know how to make the difference, and we’ve got to know some new elements that can take this national side forward in the future.

“Our attitude must be to play the game the way we have prepared and spoken about it, not only from this week but since we started working together.”

Italy are unbeaten in their last nine meetings with Ukraine yet Spalletti nevertheless pointed to threats like Oleksandr Zinchenko and Mykhailo Mudryk.

“They are strong and powerful in attack,” he warned. “They have players who are in good form in the leagues they play in.

“We’ll have to play as a team and give everything we have. The magnitude of the game tells us that we need to go beyond our capabilities; we want to steal Italians’ hearts and this is the right moment to do it.

“It’s the game to take that step up in quality that allows you to work with more ease.

“We so desperately want this qualification. There have been some difficult moments, but we have earned the right to be in this position. We just need to think about getting a result without having to rely on others.”

Since suffering the San Siro setback Ukraine have won qualifiers against North Macedonia and Malta by two-goal margins to match Italy on 13 points before Monday’s decider.

Former Tottenham striker Rebrov will have Chelsea’s Mudryk back following injury, with Bournemouth defender Illya Zabarnyi and Vitaliy Mykolenko of Everton marshalling the backline.

Girona hotshot Artem Dovbyk will lead the line in Leverkusen, with Italy likely to stick with the strikeforce that thumped North Macedonia last time out: Giacomo Raspadori and Domenico Berardi will link up with Juventus star Chiesa. Davide Frattesi, meanwhile, could come in for Arsenal playmaker Jorginho.

Gareth Southgate says there can be no let-up after sealing early qualification for Euro 2024, telling England’s players to grab next month’s chance to impress and ensure their place as top seeds.

Having set out their stall with an impressive victory over Italy in March’s Group C opener, three further wins and an away draw against Ukraine put them within touching distance of progress.

England took their chance to qualify for an eighth straight major tournament with two games to spare on Tuesday night, coming from behind to beat holders Italy 3-1 at a sold-out Wembley.

Southgate’s Euro 2020 runners-up have silverware in their sights next summer and are waiting to find out how things will shape up in Germany at the draw in Hamburg on December 2.

But before that comes the end of qualification at home to Malta and away to North Macedonia, with the England boss calling on his players to end an unbeaten 2023 on a high.

“We can now plan,” England boss Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live after their place at Euro 2024 was mathematically secured.

“We have been planning anyway for base camps and things because I think the days are gone where we didn’t do that in case it brought bad luck.

“We decided a long time ago that you have to plan as if you’re going to be there.

“We still need to win the matches next month because I think it won’t be enough to win the group to be one of the top seeds, so we’ll need a high points tally as well.

“But also I want to see all the players again next month.

“We’re not going to flog them physically. We didn’t do that this month. We’ve looked after them. We’re dealing well with the clubs on that.

“I have to say Manchester City were brilliant with this with John Stones. We’ve managed his return to play really well and I think that’s worked for both of us.

“So we now can really start to look forward with enthusiasm for next summer, but we want to finish the year, the calendar year, well as well next month.”

Southgate pledged to again give players the chance to stake their claims for a Euros spot in November’s fixtures.

“Similar to this month, we want to give people opportunities,” Southgate said at the post-match press conference.

“We need to win two matches firstly, but there’s a chance to look at look at players again, which we need to do.”

Ollie Watkins and Jarrod Bowen returned to the set-up in October and will be hoping to get another chance to impress, having started against Australia, with the former scoring in the 1-0 friendly win.

Levi Colwill and Eddie Nketiah are also in that boat, having made their debuts on Friday before Southgate reverted to the tried and tested against Luciano Spalletti’s revitalised Azzurri.

The England boss made a full 11 changes from the Socceroos encounter, with eight of Tuesday’s line-up having started the Euro 2020 final against Italy 27 months ago.

Skipper Harry Kane was, unsurprisingly, among them and took his record national team goal haul to 61 with his brace in the comeback triumph.

“There’s a risk we take the goals for granted,” Southgate said of the Bayern Munich sharpshooter.

“But his all-round play, his hold up play, the way physically dealt with the centre-backs, his vision, his passing – because we have had him for a while it’s easy to underestimate, but he’s a top-level player.

“He’s also now got a new experience at a different club, where he’s looking to win trophies all the time, and he’s got to win every week. (There is a) different sort of focus and pressure as the big signing there, so all of that’s good.

“I think he’s enjoying also coming back to England and mixing with the lads because he’s very close with all of the group.

“I’ve said before, our senior players set a brilliant example for the young ones.

“They provide that spirit. They’ve been through so much together and they provide us with such a brilliant platform.”

Levi Colwill believes Chelsea team-mate Mykhailo Mudryk can be “one of the best in the world” and hopes the winger can now kick on after scoring his first goal for the Blues.

Mudryk has struggled to tie down a starting spot at Stamford Bridge since his big-money move from Shakhtar Donetsk in January and, prior to Monday’s trip to local rivals Fulham, had not managed a single goal for his new club.

However, he finally broke his goalscoring duck with the opener in a 2-0 win at Craven Cottage and Colwill, who set up the goal with a fine pass, hopes it will do the 22-year-old Ukraine international the power of good.

“It was amazing, I’m so happy for him (Mudryk), luckily I found him,” Colwill said.

“Of course he deserves the goal. He’s a great player, he could be one of the best in the world and he needs to kick on from here and hopefully he can push on.”

Mudryk, who has now started the last three Premier League matches for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, was replaced at half-time against Fulham due to a niggle but defender Colwill felt the £88million man showed exactly what he is capable of before being forced out.

He added: “It’s been tough for him since he joined but during the first half he was amazing and I think everyone can see the qualities he has. We see it all the time in training, he’s such a good player.

“To come here and bring it for the first half was amazing and he has to build from it.

“He’s got everything. Everything you want as a winger.

“It’s tough coming from Ukraine to Chelsea and it’s a pressure he might not have experienced with the different culture too. So it’s always going to be tough but soon we’ll see the player he is.”

Mudryk’s 18th-minute opener against Fulham was quickly followed by an Armando Broja goal as Chelsea claimed only their second Premier League win of the season.

Broja started ahead of the suspended Nicolas Jackson up front and netted his first goal since returning from the cruciate ligament injury he suffered last year.

“I’m so happy for him, it was a long time he was out injured. He came back and has been working so hard to come into the side and score which is the best way to come back,” said Colwill, who believes having increased competition for places will help push both Broja and Jackson.

“One hundred per cent. They’re both great strikers so to have that battle day in day out for starting positions is going to be good for both of them, they’re both going to learn and when they come on the pitch they have got to take their chances.

“Armando has got everything, he’s a problem. I’d hate to play against him. He’s big and strong and takes his chances.”

Fulham boss Marco Silva felt his side were not aggressive enough which allowed Chelsea to strike twice in two minutes and claim west London derby bragging rights.

He said: “It’s a disappointing result for us in certain moments and in terms of performance. The first half was not aggressive enough on and off the ball. We were flat in some moments and were not dynamic.

“They got behind Harrison Reed, Joao Palhinha, our midfield and caused some problems for us.

“When the game was balanced they scored the first goal and we were too passive the way we reacted to Colwill’s cross and after that we were punished by another mistake by ourselves (Tim Ream).”

Gareth Southgate focused on England’s important point and a valuable learning experience after admitting his side did not “quite click” in attack in the Euro 2024 qualifying draw against Ukraine.

Having won their first four Group C matches on the road to next summer’s tournament in Germany, Saturday saw them fail to win a European Championship qualifier for just the second time in 23 attempts.

Ukraine, playing on the road due to the ongoing Russian invasion in their homeland, took the lead through skipper Oleksandr Zinchenko to the delight of the partisan crowd in Wroclaw, Poland.

England levelled before half-time through Kyle Walker’s first international goal on his 77th appearance for the national team, but Southgate’s side could not find a winner as they struggled for attacking fluidity and a cutting edge.

“The reality is we’re not going to win every game by fours and sevens as we’ve done in this qualifying campaign,” the England boss said after Saturday’s 1-1 draw.

“That was a really good test – away from home, very passionate atmosphere, quite a few changes forced from the last game.

“For people like Marc Guehi, for instance, his first experience of the game like that with England, which he came through really strongly.

“So, sometimes, especially with attacking play, it doesn’t quite click. We know that the patterns that we worked during the week are what we always do, so it’s not that we approach the game in a different way.

“We tried to refresh things to give them a different sort of problem but today our forward play bar the goal and probably Bukayo’s effort that hit the bar wasn’t at the level that it has been in our previous games.”

The Bukayo Saka attempt that was tipped onto the bar by Ukraine goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan was the closest England came to a winner on a night where they were often passive in possession and toothless in attack.

“I think what I liked was the control of the game that we had when you come into an intense atmosphere like there was,” Southgate said in the bowels of the Tarczynski Arena.

“I thought we played with real composure up until the final third and then I think by the time we scored the goal we’d had over 70 per cent of the ball but that was our first attempt on target.

“So clearly, most of our attacking play wasn’t at the level that we would have hoped it to be. But I thought given the circumstances and the importance of the point in terms of qualification and coming from behind when the crowd are full and the opposition have something to hang on to.

“It’s a very important point for us and we’ve now played the two best ranked teams away from home and we’ve got four points from those two games.”

Despite the frustrating draw, it still remains a case of when rather than if England qualify for the Euros.

Southgate’s men now turn their attention to their friendly away to old foes Scotland on Tuesday, when Ukraine travel to Italy for a key clash in the fight for qualification.

Ukraine head coach Sergey Rebrov said: “The atmosphere was really great – simply amazing. A big thank you to our fans. I thanked my players for their performance, especially in defence.

“It is very difficult to stop such good attacking players as England have, but we did it on many occasions. This is a satisfactory result – another step towards reaching the finals.”

England hit a rare bump on the road to next year’s European Championship as Kyle Walker’s first international goal secured Gareth Southgate’s side a 1-1 draw against Ukraine in Poland.

Having opened Group C with four wins from as many matches, it has long looked a case of when rather than if the Euro 2020 runners-up seal their place at next summer’s tournament in Germany.

England had won 21 of their previous 22 Euros qualifiers but had to make do with a point on Saturday evening having failed to build on Walker brilliantly cancelling out Oleksandr Zinchenko’s opener.

James Maddison was turned into a YouTube star by his father and now the Tottenham man is hoping his next highlight reel can compare to those of the likes of Paul Gascoigne and Wayne Rooney as he targets success with England.

As Maddison rose up through the Coventry academy his story was documented by his dad Gary – who launched his own YouTube channel in 2006 to showcase his son’s burgeoning ability.

The five videos available on the channel – @gazmaddy – have amassed over 175,000 views in total.

Gary had earlier put together compilations of his favourite players, with Maddison glued to the screen as a boy watching edited clips of Gascoigne.

Maddison, 26, admits he is not old enough to remember Gascoigne in his pomp, but his father made up for that.

“My dad used to put football videos together. He is a graphic designer and is good with computers and stuff,” he said.

“He used to put montages together and stuff and Gazza features on a lot of them, so I remember a lot of his clips.”

Maddison has excelled since joining Spurs from Leicester in the summer and has taken on the role of entertainer in the Tottenham team – a tag Gascoigne always enjoyed during his stint at White Hart Lane.

“Growing up, I was a footie fan. Before you become a professional, you are a fan of the game and I loved players who had personality,” he said.

“I loved watching players who had a little bit of cheekiness about them, a little bit more than your bog-standard. I’m not sure what I mean by bog-standard but I like players who show their personality when they play.

“Gazza was a perfect example. For example, something silly… I remember a clip where the cameras are going down the national anthem and it gets to him and he sticks his tongue out and starts messing around with the camera and going all bog-eyed – and I just love that. That’s why I like interacting with fans and showing my personality.

“I like the theatre element of almost being the villain a little bit. That keeps me at my best. That’s how I enjoyed watching it and that’s how enjoy playing it.”

Maddison, who will be aiming to add to his three senior England caps in the upcoming games against Ukraine and Scotland, cited former captain Rooney among a number of more contemporary examples of the players he looks up to.

“I love Wayne Rooney and in more recent times when I started to know a little more about football and we were in the academy and there was more of a realistic chance of becoming a footballer,” he added.

“I loved Philippe Coutinho when he was at Liverpool and David Silva, who had 10 brilliant years at (Manchester) City. Christian Eriksen when he first came to Spurs. I would probably say Rooney was the big one in my childhood. I used to love Wazza.

“Again, he was someone who played with personality. He was a bit more feisty than me – a bit harder into a tackle – but his personality and the way he came through in the way he played. And that’s what I enjoy.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by James Maddison (@madders)

 

Injury, form and fierce competition have limited Maddison to a bit-part playing role on the international stage to date.

After playing down suggestions of any previous rift with manager Gareth Southgate, he admits travelling to the World Cup and not being able to play because of a niggling knee complaint has given him even more reason to feature at Euro 2024.

“It definitely gave me motivation for Germany,” he said of his non-playing stint in Qatar.

“I was so proud to be there representing my country. Gareth gave me a massive compliment as we were leaving. He said he knew it has been tough with the injury and not featuring, but he was really impressed with the way I had carried myself round the group.

“Him putting his arm around me and saying that as we were leaving stuck with me. I made a conscious effort not to be down, even though I was at the World Cup and I wanted to play for England. It has given me a hunger. I just want more and more.

“I’ve been ready for a long time, in my head. But there is so much talent here, such a great squad of players in terms of pure ability and talent. We see it in training every day – the standard is so high and it’s brilliant to be a part of.”

Eddie Nketiah insists he never felt that his chance to represent England had passed him, by even after Arsenal team-mates Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe got the jump on him on the international stage.

The 24-year-old, England’s all-time record goalscorer at Under-21 level, received his first senior call-up for the upcoming games against Ukraine and Scotland but is now ready to make his “own story” with Gareth Southgate’s side.

Nketiah made his Arsenal debut six years ago and last turned out for the Under-21s in 2021.

He has scored 34 goals in 136 games for the Gunners, starting with a memorable home debut off the bench against Norwich – scoring a brace to secure victory in an EFL Cup tie.

Despite bursting onto the scene, Nketiah’s options were limited to the lesser cup competitions and a disappointing loan spell at Leeds in the Sky Bet Championship was seen as another setback.

All the while, Saka and Smith Rowe were emerging as the next precocious academy talent off the Hale End production line – the former now a firm favourite of England boss Gareth Southgate.

Asked if he was concerned he may have missed his own international opportunity, Nketiah replied: “I’m still young.

“Everyone’s journey is different. In this day and age everyone needs to focus on their own story and their own journey, not look at anyone else’s. Our career paths have been totally different. We’ve had different opportunities at different times.

“I’ve always been someone who’s trusted in God, trust in myself, believe in the process step by step. It might not always happen exactly when you want it but if you keep putting in the work and doing the right things it will come.

“I am playing for a great club and a big club at Arsenal. These tough games will be a different and new experience but it is about doing as well as I can, showing my quality this week, and hopefully getting an opportunity to go out there and help the team.

“I think I am a much better player now than I was two or three years ago. It is really nice and I am coming in at a good time.

“I feel confident and I feel ready to continue to improve – that is the thing, I’m still young and humble enough to know I am not the finished article.

“Coming away with these players and being able to show my quality and learn from them is really good for me and (to) continue to take those steps in my career.”

Nketiah could have opted to switch allegiances, with Ghana – the birthplace of his parents – putting feelers out to attract him to play for the Black Stars.

But, once the England call came, the former Chelsea youngster knew he had made the right decision.

He added: “I think obviously both sides were always an option.

“I think naturally coming through the academy at England, you have the aspiration to play here and once the call-up was there and the offer was on the table it was really hard to turn down, something which I felt was a natural progression for myself at this stage.

“I felt now was a good time to make that step so obviously I’m really happy to be here and proud to be here. Hopefully I can go on and help the team this week and get some caps.”

England were joined for training by three members of the Under-20 set-up as preparations continued for the matches in Ukraine and Scotland.

Gareth Southgate’s side men head to Poland to take on Ukraine in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Saturday, before heading to Glasgow for a friendly three days later.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jack Grealish withdrew from the initial 26-man selection on Monday through injury, with 21 of the remaining players taking part in the full session at St George’s Park the following day.

Callum Wilson, Bukayo Saka and uncapped Levil Colwill were not involved in training due to load management, with Lewis Hall among the three prospects brought up from the England Under-20s squad to help make up the numbers.

The talented 18-year-old left-back joined Newcastle on a season-long loan from Chelsea last month, with an obligation to buy depending on performance-related criteria.

Fellow Chelsea product Bashir Humphreys was another involved. The 20-year-old defender is on loan at Sky Bet Championship outfit Swansea.

Tottenham midfielder Alfie Devine was the other to link up with the senior squad for training. The 19-year-old is currently on loan at League One side Port Vale.

LGBT+ England fans could turn their backs on Jordan Henderson when he plays for his country in a symbolic response to the midfielder’s move to Saudi Arabia.

Henderson was included in the 26-man squad for the upcoming games with Ukraine and Scotland as England manager Southgate stuck with the 33-year-old despite his move to Saudi Pro League side Al-Ettifaq.

Southgate does not believe Henderson will be jeered when he next turns out for England, despite the criticism he has faced for moving to Saudi Arabia after being a keen and vocal supporter of the Premier League’s ‘Rainbow Laces’ campaign and also working alongside Liverpool’s official LGBT+ fan group.

And while Joe White, the co-chair of Pride in Football and founder of Three Lions Pride believes Henderson will not receive a hostile reception, his presence on the pitch could be greeted with a symbolic gesture “in the same way he turned his back on us”.

“It definitely will be a very muted atmosphere and, whilst he’s got presence in the squad, he will not have a presence in our banners that we take to games any more,” White told the PA news agency.

“I don’t think it will go hostile because ultimately we want England to do as well as possible but I do think that, say he came on as a substitute, where before there would be a lot of cheering, particularly from our group at Three Lions Pride, I think there will just be silence now .

“It may well be that there comes a joint message from the LGBT fans in the stadium who may well turn their backs on him coming onto the pitch in the same way he turned his back on us by going to Saudi.”

Speaking after announcing his squad, Southgate said: “We are picking a team for football reasons.”

“There are lots of different ownership models of clubs in England, there are lots of players playing in countries where there are different religious beliefs, I don’t really know why a player would receive an adverse reaction because of where he plays his football.

“That of course is a personal choice.

“It is really difficult to… I’m a bit lost really with some of the questioning because you walk in to try and talk about a squad announcement based on football decisions and increasingly we are navigating such complex political aspects that I’m not really trained to do.

“Forgive me if I am stumbling a little bit but I find it a really difficult scenario to try and get right.

“We’ll do the best we can and we try to make decisions for any number of reasons but I have to pick a squad based on the players that I think can get us qualified for a European Championship and that’s why we’ve picked the players we have.”

England had previously been criticised by LGBT+ groups after they opted against wearing the ‘One Love’ armband during the World Cup in Qatar last year.

Southgate, though, reaffirmed his commitment to inclusivity, adding: “We are supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.

“A large number of the team and staff have either relatives or friends from that community.

“It is something that we are very conscious of and a situation we are very conscious of.

“We have tried to be very supportive but I also accept members of the community felt let down around the World Cup.

“These are all very complex situations that we are trying to do our best to navigate.”

Southgate told BBC Radio 5Live that it had been a straightforward decision to pick Henderson, while adding it was up to the player himself when he would address the issue.

“It’s for him to decide when he’s going to speak and how he speaks,” he said.

The PA news agency understands media plans for which England players will be put forward to speak at St George’s Park next week are still to be confirmed.

Asked if there was anything Henderson could do to win back support of the LGBT+ community, White added: “I don’t think he can regain the trust purely because he’s now living in a country where it’s illegal to be LGBT, where the local LGBT community have to hide and live in fear of arrest, of state-sanctioned abuse.

“He can’t just suddenly start going ‘Oh well, I’m engaging on LGBT rights’ because he doesn’t have the influence in the country and if he does things without listening to the likes of Amnesty International and people who know what it’s like to have to protect local LGBT people, all he’ll do is end up damaging those who are most affected by that regime.”

Former Manchester United captain Harry Maguire and Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips were both included in Southgate’s squad despite being yet to play a minute of club football this season.

Under-21 European Championship winner Levi Colwill received his maiden formal call-up and uncapped Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah has also got the nod for the first time, although there is no place for Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling despite a strong start to the campaign.

Gareth Southgate says Raheem Sterling is “not particularly happy” to have been overlooked for an England recall.

The 28-year-old is one of the national team’s most experienced players but has not added to his 82 caps since December’s World Cup quarter-final exit to France.

Sterling missed the March meet-up through injury and a nagging hamstring issue led to what his camp described as a “mutual decision” to recuperate his body after a rocky first season at Chelsea.

But the forward’s expected return did not come to pass, with the forward the most eye-catching omission from Southgate’s 26-man squad for the Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine and friendly in Scotland.

“We were really pleased with the group (in June),” the England manager said.

“To bring Raheem back in we have to leave someone else out and on the back of three games I didn’t think anybody in this group of attacking players warrants being left out.

“It’s really good to see him start the season so well. He looks in good condition, he looks hungry.

“He’s obviously an important player for us and has been an important player for us.

“But we have in those attacking areas just behind the nine a lot of competition for places.

“I think all of those players have started the season well and certainly the group that are with us has done really well for us in the in the recent games.”

Put to the England boss that Sterling has missed three squads in a row, Southgate said: “He was not available for the last two and of course that’s given other people the opportunity to play well and to establish themselves in the group.

“It’s a difficult call and Raheem is not particularly happy about it, but I understand that because he’s an important player for us.

“I’m convinced he’s going to have an excellent season with Chelsea, there’s no doubt about that.”

Sterling has started Chelsea’s first three Premier League matches of the season, including scoring twice and providing an assist in Friday’s 3-0 win against Luton.

A statement from the player’s camp on Thursday read: “Raheem will revert to the coach for all comment but would like to reinforce that the decision has been respected. Raheem will continue to focus on his domestic form.”

While Sterling was overlooked, Southgate kept the faith with England vice-captain Jordan Henderson despite his controversial move to Saudi Arabia club Al-Ettifaq.

There was also a place for former Manchester United captain Harry Maguire and Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips, despite neither having played a minute of club football.

 

 

Harry Maguire retains his place in the squad despite not featuring for Manchester United this season (Martin Rickett/PA)“With Harry Maguire, we’ve lost a lot of experienced players in terms of caps at centre-half, so we’re giving some less experienced players the opportunity to come into the squad,” Southgate said.

“Unfortunately it looks like Tyrone (Mings) is out for most of the season. John Stones is out for this camp. Eric Dier hasn’t appeared in Tottenham’s squad.

“If I’m looking at all the players we’ve given caps to in the last few years, Conor Coady is also out and playing in the Championship now so there is a space there.

“I think, for these two games, it’s important we have some experience in that area of the pitch.

“Clearly with Harry and with Kalvin Phillips, it’s far from ideal that they’re not playing football.

“But similarly with Kalvin, I think Declan Rice was the only English player to start at the weekend as a single pivot and Kalvin is the next best positioned to do that.

“Hendo can play there, Conor Gallagher could play there, but it’s not the best position.

“We’ve got players play in the league that are playing in a double pivot. Someone like Angel Gomes is doing that but it’s a different sort of role.

“So, yeah, it’s not a good situation that those guys aren’t playing football but in certain positions we have a lot of depth in in other positions we don’t have a lot of depth.”

Southgate largely stuck with the tried and tested, but there was a place for uncapped Chelsea defender Levi Colwill and, more surprisingly, Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah.

“Two young players who are doing very well, who have done well with our junior teams,” Southgate said. “Levi, of course, had some time with us in the summer anyway.

“Eddie is coming in because it’s an area where we’d like to have a look at him.

“He’s a young player with a really good pedigree, very good finisher and it’s good for him to have some time with us.

“I think he’s record goalscorer with the Under-21s as well.

“He’s not had the chance to work with us up to this point but he’s a player that we’re really interested in.”

Gareth Southgate does not believe Jordan Henderson will be jeered when he next turns out for England as he reiterated his support of the LGBT+ community after naming the Al-Ettifaq midfielder in his latest squad.

Henderson was included in the 26-man pool for the upcoming games with Ukraine and Scotland as England manager Southgate stuck with the 33-year-old after his move to the Saudi Pro League.

The transfer proved to be a controversial one, with Henderson leaving Liverpool for Saudi Arabia despite having been a keen and vocal supporter of the Premier League’s ‘Rainbow Laces’ campaign and after previously working alongside the Merseyside club’s official LGBT+ fan group in the past.

The England boss has no concerns that there will be any adverse reaction next time he pulls on the shirt.

“We are picking a team for football reasons,” he said.

“There are lots of different ownership models of clubs in England, there are lots of players playing in countries where there are different religious beliefs, I don’t really know why a player would receive an adverse reaction because of where he plays his football.

“That of course is a personal choice.

“It is really difficult to… I’m a bit lost really with some of the questioning because you walk in to try and talk about a squad announcement based on football decisions and increasingly we are navigating such complex political aspects that I’m not really trained to do.

“Forgive me if I am stumbling a little bit but I find it a really difficult scenario to try and get right.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jordan Henderson (@jordanhenderson)

“We’ll do the best we can and we try to make decisions for any number of reasons but I have to pick a squad based on the players that I think can get us qualified for a European Championship and that’s why we’ve picked the players we have.”

England had previously been criticised by LGBT+ groups after they opted against wearing the ‘One Love’ armband during the World Cup in Qatar last year.

Southgate, though, reaffirmed his commitment to inclusivity, adding: “We are supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.

“A large number of the team and staff have either relatives or friends from that community.

“It is something that we are very conscious of and a situation we are very conscious of.

“We have tried to be very supportive but I also accept members of the community felt let down around the World Cup.

“You have to live your life as you see fit. I can only talk on a personal level and my feelings of what the team represents.

“I always try to do things with my life that I believe are inclusive, I try to be accepting of all cultures and understanding of everybody’s different positions and there might be a feeling we haven’t done enough in certain situations.

“If that is the case, then we have to accept that criticism. But it is not intentional that we would let down any of our fans.

“These are all very complex situations that we are trying to do our best to navigate.”

Former Manchester United captain Harry Maguire and Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips were both included in Southgate’s squad despite being yet to play a minute of club football this season.

Under-21 European Championship winner Levi Colwill received his maiden formal call-up and uncapped Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah has also got the nod for the first time, although there is no place for Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling despite a strong start to the campaign.

England’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine in September will be played in the Polish city of Wroclaw.

Gareth Southgate’s men have enjoyed a 100 per cent start to European Championship qualification, with four wins from their four Group C matches.

England’s next qualifier is on September 9 away to Ukraine, who have been forced to host matches away from their homeland since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

The Ukrainian Association of Football has confirmed that the match will be held in Poland at the 45,000-capacity Tarczynski Arena in Wroclaw.

They held last year’s Nations League games in Poland – two in Lodz, one in Krakow – and played June’s match at home to Malta in Trnava, Slovakia.

The Austrian cities of Vienna and Klagenfurt had been reportedly considered as host cities for the match against England.

The tennis highlight of the British summer is upon us again with the 2023 edition of Wimbledon.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five talking points ahead of this year’s tournament.

Ukraine-Russian tensions to resume

 

Shakhtar Donetsk have filed a complaint against FIFA to the European Commission, claiming a ruling allowing their foreign players to suspend their contracts has cost them €40million.

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, FIFA permitted foreign players based in the country to suspend their contracts until June 2023, allowing them to seal short-term moves elsewhere.

Claiming those measures will likely be extended through to June 2024, Shakhtar – who have previously seen an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed – pledged to continue to fight the ruling.

A statement from the club's chief executive Serhiy Palkin said: "Action has been taken to file this complaint to the European Commission, given the importance of Shakhtar undertaking transfer market trading with players within the European Union.

"Therefore, it is entirely legitimate and fair to bring this complaint before the EU Commission since FIFA's actions violate EU competition law.

"The over-reaching measures applied by FIFA led to the massive loss of player transfer income and a depletion of essential club revenues amounting to approximately €40million.

"We expect the European Commission to understand and appreciate the extreme financial pressures being placed on our club due to FIFA's actions – at a time when our nation is being ravaged by an illegal war."

James Maddison was delighted to earn his "second debut" with England after facing difficulties during the World Cup in Qatar.

The Leicester City midfielder's second cap for the Three Lions came three and a half years after his international debut, with opportunities not forthcoming in that spell as he faced immense competition for a berth in the side.

Maddison shone in his display against Ukraine at Wembley, creating five chances – the most of any player in their first game for England since Theo Walcott created six against Andorra in September 2008.

With his England debut feeling like "a lifetime ago", Maddison enjoyed his second coming into the national side.

"It felt great. I said in there it almost felt like a second debut. Like it doesn't really work. But it's been that long," he told reporters.

"It feels a lifetime ago, since that Montenegro again. So almost felt like a secondary it felt really good out there.

"It's so refreshing to be out there with the lads and, in a strong team and a big game. So, I really enjoyed it."

Maddison's hopes of featuring for England at the World Cup in Qatar suffered a serious blow after picking up an injury ahead of the tournament, leaving him battling for fitness in his bid to play.

No minutes in the tournament came for the Leicester City man, who detailed the struggles he endured during England's campaign.

"I felt there were a lot of lows, and there's a lot of sad, sad faces when I was in my room by myself," he explained.

"Just thinking 'why now this little injury why? Why in the West Ham game did I get that just before the World Cup', after I've worked so hard to get to the position where it felt everyone was clamouring for me to be in the squad.

"And I've worked so hard and my performances were really good. And so there were tough times in the room in Qatar, FaceTiming home, just sad, but it was almost like a battle with myself to say, 'don't take this for granted'.

"I might not be able to shake this injury off, but it will leave me in good stead if I show Gareth, and show the people who are questioning my personality off the fields that or whatever that is, that's all rubbish and that I can be a good person.

"We have such a good group and I get on so well with the lads and the staff, and it's what you see from the outside is exactly how it is.

"The togetherness and the fun nature of the energy around the camp. So, I hoped stuff like that would leave me in good stead."

Page 1 of 9
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.