Gareth Southgate is aware Ben White could face a backlash after he made himself unavailable for England duty but felt it was “impossible” to conceal the reason behind Thursday’s omission.

White has starred for Premier League leaders Arsenal this season and was set to be part of this month’s 25-man squad for the friendlies with Brazil and Belgium.

However, Arsenal sporting director Edu informed John McDermott, technical director at the Football Association, last week that White does not want to be currently considered for England squads, having not been called-up since he was sent home early from the 2022 World Cup.

White left Qatar for what the Football Association called “personal reasons” but reports later emerged of an alleged bust-up with England assistant Steve Holland.

Southgate denied any such fall-out on Thursday, although White’s absence from a squad ravaged by injuries has already sparked debate over the future international prospects of the versatile defender.

“John McDermott had a call from Edu last week to say that Ben didn’t want to be considered for England squads at this time. For me, that’s a great shame,” Southgate reflected.

“For me, England was the pinnacle. Did I enjoy every moment with England? No. Were there moments where you thought ‘here we go, into the lions’ den’ if you like, literally? Yes, but I always wanted to challenge myself and test myself.

“And the things I regret in my life are the things that I’ve not had a go at, not the things that I’ve failed at. For me, it was always the ultimate, but, I wasn’t at a club going for the league title, or in the last couple of rounds of the Champions League. I can’t speculate what’s behind it.

“We have to respect that. There’s clearly a reason, but I don’t know the full reason.

“As I’ve said, in these situations I’ve tried to protect players. Clearly that is impossible at this point because the timing of asking to come off the long-list, and the fact that I don’t have huge credibility if I didn’t pick him on form!

“I don’t think it would be right not to state the situation we’re in. We’ve explained to Arsenal we were going to do that and if you make a decision like that, you do have to stand by it.

“But like I say, I want to keep the door open. I don’t want there to be a backlash. I understand that we’re in a situation where that could happen, but I believe he’s announced he’s signing a new contract, so there’s no question he’s got the love of the Arsenal fans.

“For me, the shame is that he’s a player I like. I can see his ability is obvious. I would have liked to have picked him, but it’s not an option that’s open to me.

“I completely respect it. The door for me is completely open. Look, we have to say that’s unlikely now for the Euros because of the situation this month. But moving forward, I would hope that he feels differently about it.”

Southgate handed White his England debut against Austria in June 2021, then drafted him into the squad for that summer’s rearranged Euros as replacement for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold. The defender did not make an appearance in the run to the final, nor did he play a minute at the World Cup in Qatar.

The bombshell news that White does not want to add to his four England caps came hours after the announcement that he had signed a new and improved contract at the Emirates Stadium.

The 26-year-old agreed a new four-year deal, with the option for a further 12 months, the PA news agency understands, having featured in every Premier League game this term.

England manager Gareth Southgate is comfortable with fully focusing on making sure there is a Trafalgar Square party in July after European Championship success rather than worrying about his contract situation.

Southgate has made the conscious decision to put talks over his future on hold despite his current terms with the Football Association being set to expire in December.

Euro 2024 will be the fourth major tournament Southgate has taken charge of as England boss and he is determined to minimise any potential distractions.

“I have to deliver in the job I’m in, so there’s no point in me thinking any further ahead than that,” Southgate insisted.

“My focus is delivering the best possible European Championship for England. Since I came to St George’s, our target has been being in the final four of things, with the ultimate aim of winning.

“If you look at the trajectory of a team, we’re at that point where we’ve done a lot of the climb and the enjoyable bit and we’re at that last bit, really, of winning and getting over the line.

“We’ve shown the consistency in the world ranking for the last five years, so there’s consistency of performances. We have to translate that with the next step now.

“That’s the challenge I have to accept as well and I’m really comfortable with that.

“There’s no point in speculating about what might happen after the summer.

“I think we would have to sit and think about that at the end of the tournament. I’m happy to talk about it briefly now, but I’m not going to talk about for the whole summer, what’s next.

“We’ve consciously shelved any discussions internally about what might be next, because I think if we had sat and signed a new contract and done that before the tournament, everybody would have said: ‘Well, you did this with (Fabio) Capello and you should be proving yourself before you sign.’

“So, look, I’m completely relaxed about that and I have no idea where we’ll be in the middle of July, other than I hope it’s Trafalgar Square and let’s get the party on!”

On being the one to decide conversations around his contract being put on the back-burner, Southgate added: “Yes, because I think that has the potential to negatively affect the reaction to the team.

“The team need the clearest run they can possibly have at this tournament, so my job is to remove pressure from the team where possible.

“We’ve got to accept some pressure because we’re one of the favourites, but, equally, I don’t want to put anything additional onto the team.”

A key figure in England’s hopes of securing a maiden European Championship title is Jude Bellingham, who has enjoyed an excellent debut campaign at Real Madrid.

Bellingham has scored 20 times since a summer switch from Borussia Dortmund, but recently made headlines after he was sent off after he remonstrated with referee Jesus Gil Manzano at the end of a 2-2 draw at Valencia.

Southgate said: “I think with some of the great players that play with a mentality he has, I’m thinking (Steven) Gerrard, (Patrick) Vieira and (Roy) Keane, they compete. They don’t like losing, they love winning.

“They haul the team up by its boots at those moments and they are often on that line. That is often where he is, so the thing that gives him his greatest strength is something he has to make sure he is on the right side of.

“He has normally been able to stay controlled in those moments if he’s had a yellow card. This is the first time with the sending-off the other day that I can remember him stepping over that. He is a bright boy, he will learn from that.

“He is super intelligent and really receptive to learning and taking things in. He’s had an incredible season at historically the biggest club in the world. Everyone can argue with if that is still the case but we’re very happy to have him.

“We love that edge that he has but clearly he has to get that right.”

Gareth Southgate would love Kalvin Phillips to fight his way into England’s Euro 2024 squad but felt he had to drop the out-of-sorts midfielder this month as he was not confident about his performance levels.

The 28-year-old has established himself as a key figure in the national team set-up since winning the first of his 31 caps away to Denmark in September 2020.

Phillips was named England men’s player of the year for 2020-21 after shining in the run to the European Championship final, but pressure has mounted on his position since leaving Leeds for Manchester City in 2022.

The midfielder barely made an impact under Pep Guardiola and joined West Ham on loan in January, but a disastrous start there led to his omission from Southgate’s final squad before naming his Euros selection.

“There are times when you know your best players are your best players,” the England boss told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Other people might doubt it but you’re going with them because you know that you can get that level of performance from them.

“At the moment, I couldn’t be confident on the performances Kalvin’s had in the last few weeks that he could go onto the field and do the job we know that he’s capable of.

“So, there’s absolutely no reason why he can’t find that form. Nothing would give us more pleasure than having a Kalvin that’s back in the rhythm of playing and back to full confidence.

“We will be a better team, squad, whatever that might be, if that’s the case, so we’re hoping he can find that.

“Maybe a moment like this where you think, well, that’s perhaps the lowest it can get for him in terms of the last few months, now he can just go for it and be himself.”

Southgate last year warned that Phillips’ place was in jeopardy if he continued to be a peripheral figure at City but believes the “outstanding player” has the attributes to bounce back.

“I think he knows exactly what we think of him,” Southgate at the Wembley press conference. “I think we’ve shown that support.

“A good version of him is an important player for us and that’s why we’ve supported him as we have. We don’t have many players of that profile.

“Unfortunately, his form just hasn’t been good enough. I’ve spoken to him about that, he understands.”

Phillips was omitted from the 25-man squad for March’s Wembley double-header against Brazil and Belgium, which has seen Southgate have to juggle a swathe of injuries among other things.

But setbacks for some means opportunities for others, with Everton centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite, 21, and Newcastle forward Anthony Gordon, 23, receiving their first senior call-ups.

“He’s good with the ball, shows good composure, good mentality,” Southgate said of Branthwaite.

“He’s a left footer and we don’t have many left-footed defenders, so he’s in our merit and we’re really keen to work with him and find out a bit more about him.”

On Gordon, the England boss said: “Consistently good performances. He was very close in November, as we said at the time.

“He’s continued his form, he’s scoring, his work for the team is excellent. He competes, which is important, so I really like his attitude.”

Arsenal’s Ben White ruled himself out of a call-up and there was a return from the international wilderness for versatile Liverpool defender Joe Gomez, who won the last of his 11 England caps in 2020.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney is also back at first time of asking, having returned from an eight-month Football Association betting ban in January.

Southgate does not know whether there is enough room in the Euros squad for him and Ollie Watkins to back up Harry Kane this summer, but he wanted to work with the one-cap striker again.

“I think we feel that Ivan is one of the contenders in that role, so it’s important to bring him back in and for him to be able to work with us again,” Southgate said.

“He’s shown straight away, getting back into Brentford’s team the quality and the impact that he can have.”

Gareth Southgate has revealed in-form Arsenal defender Ben White does not want to be selected by England at the moment.

The 26-year-old has starred for the Premier League leaders this season but has not featured in the national team squad since the 2022 World Cup.

White returned early from Qatar for what the Football Association called “personal reasons” and reports later emerged of an alleged bust-up with England assistant Steve Holland.

Southgate denied any such fall-out on Thursday, when he had hoped to include the defender in his squad for March’s Euro 2024 warm-up friendlies against Brazil and Belgium.

“Look, it’s absolutely the question you should ask because clearly on form I can’t sit here and say he doesn’t deserve to be in,” the England boss said.

“We, (FA technical director) John McDermott, had a call from (Arsenal sporting director) Edu last week to say that Ben didn’t want to be considered for England squads at this time.

“For me, that’s a great shame. He’s a player I really like. He’s a player that we took to a Euros when he was at Brighton, a player that we took to the World Cup.

“I spoke to him post-Qatar because I was keen to pick him and there was clearly reticence on his side. I don’t know fully why that is, but I have to respect that.

“I want to leave the door open for him because he’s a good player and I think he’s a player who can make a difference for England.

“But he’s not available to us and so the only other thing I would say is there is no issue between us at all.

“And also I should say there’s never any issue with Steve Holland because that has sort of been mentioned in articles and I don’t like that.

“People can talk about me, and I have to accept that things get said that are false about me. For whatever reason in this role, you have to almost stomach that.

“But I’m not prepared for that to happen for a key member of my coaching team because that is not the reason Ben is unavailable for selection.”

Southgate handed White his England debut against Austria in June 2021, then drafted him into the squad for that summer’s rearranged Euros as replacement for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The defender did not make an appearance in the run to the final, nor did he play a minute at the World Cup in Qatar.

The bombshell news that White does not want to add to his four England caps came hours after the announcement that he had signed a new and improved contract at the Emirates Stadium.

The 26-year-old agreed a new four-year deal, with the option for a further 12 months, the PA news agency understands, having featured in every Premier League game this term.

White says it is “unbelievable” to have found his home at Arsenal but clearly does not feel as comfortable wearing an England shirt.

“I have to respect it,” Southgate said of the decision. “Look, he’s not the first player that at certain times hasn’t wanted to be available for selection.

“So, I’ve always tried to protect those players because I always want the door to be left open, even though on lots of those occasions I’m the one that gets it in the neck for not picking them and people don’t know the reasons.

“But sometimes as a leader, you have to take the flak for others and allow them time to come through.

“Sometimes we’ve had young players that haven’t felt comfortable coming away with England, when I was with the Under-21s and then as they get older, they get more comfortable with it. So there can be all sorts of reasons for that.

“As I said, I think we should respect that. I repeat: he’s clearly playing very well and has been for a long time but he’s not available.”

Everton centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite hailed his maiden England call-up a dream come true.

The 21-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with the Toffees, playing 31 times in all competitions after he spent last season on loan at PSV Eindhoven.

Branthwaite has benefited from injuries in the centre of England’s defence to be selected for the March friendlies with Brazil and Belgium, but promised to take in every moment when he links up with Gareth Southgate’s squad for the first time next week.

“It’s a dream come true,” Branthwaite told evertontv. “To represent your national team at any level is a massive achievement but for it to be the senior squad, I’m over the moon.

“I found out in training. The gaffer pulled me and told me I’ve been selected, so I was buzzing when I heard the news.

“You can only affect what you do on the pitch and give yourself the best possible opportunity to be selected and that’s by putting in good performances on the pitch.

“That’s what your only focus can be, really, and that’s been from when I came into the team to now – it’s just to keep delivering that high level and see where that takes me.

“I messaged my dad and he said he’s very proud of me. He said: ‘All of the family is proud’, so it’s a lovely feeling. I just can’t wait to join up with the team.

“They’re obviously really tough fixtures but I’m really happy to just be in the squad, take every moment in and see where it takes me.”

 

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Southgate insisted former England Under-21 international Branthwaite had been picked on merit.

He added: “He’s good with the ball, shows good composure, good mentality.

“He’s a left-footer and we don’t have many left-footed defenders. He’s in on merit and we’re keen to find out more about him.”

Jarrad Branthwaite and Anthony Gordon have received their first England call-ups but there was no place for Kalvin Phillips in Gareth Southgate’s last squad before making his Euro 2024 selection.

Joe Gomez, who won the last of his 11 senior caps in October 2020, has returned from the international wilderness for March’s Wembley friendlies against Belgium and Brazil.

Ivan Toney is back involved at the first opportunity after serving an eight-month Football Association betting ban, but Raheem Sterling was conspicuous by his absence once again.

Phillips has been dropped after a torrid run of form since he joined West Ham on loan in January.

Phillips was at fault for a goal on his debut against Bournemouth before he was sent off at Nottingham Forest last month and hooked at half-time of Sunday’s 2-2 draw at home to Burnley.

England boss Gareth Southgate said: “Well, I think he knows exactly what we think of him. A good version of him is an important player for us and that’s why we’ve supported him as we have.

“Unfortunately his form hasn’t been good enough and I’ve spoken to him about that. He understands.

“He has all the attributes to force his way back in. He just needs to find that rhythm and confidence because there is an outstanding player in there.”

George Ford continues at fly-half as England keep faith with the side that stunned Ireland for their attempt at winning the Guinness Six Nations title.

Head coach Steve Borthwick has made only one enforced changed for the showdown with France in Lyon on Saturday night by choosing Elliot Daly to replace the injured Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

Feyi-Waboso self-reported concussion symptoms incurred against Ireland, prompting England to stand down their breakout player of the tournament.

Veteran Daly is restored to the left wing in his absence, with Tommy Freeman switching to the number 14 jersey worn by the 21-year Exeter Chief on his first international start.

Manu Tuilagi makes his first appearance of the Six Nations after taking Daly’s place on the bench in what will be his first Test since last autumn’s World Cup bronze medal match, having missed the opening rounds because of a groin problem.

Ford has held off the challenge of Marcus Smith to retain the fly-half duties for the climax to the tournament.

Smith kicked the last-gasp drop goal that sank Ireland 23-22 last Saturday and made a telling contribution off the bench, bring extra zip to England’s attack after Ford had pulled the strings effectively earlier on.

A second change among the replacements sees Ethan Roots replace calf injury victim Chandler Cunningham-South.

England will win the title if Ireland lose to Scotland without claiming a bonus point and they defeat France while securing a bonus point.

“After such a hard-fought win against Ireland last week, we realise how important it is to back that performance up with another similar display in Lyon on Saturday,” Borthwick said.

“France remain one of the very top sides in the world and will pose a great challenge for us.

“We’ve had a great preparation so far this week and there is a genuine sense of anticipation and determination around the camp as we head to what will be an exciting final weekend.”

Wales are confident Liverpool striker Lewis Koumas will continue to play for them on the international stage and not change his allegiance to England.

Dual-qualified Koumas has been promoted to the Wales Under-21 set-up after being capped at U19 level and breaking in to the first-team picture at Liverpool.

The 18-year-old was an unused substitute in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup final victory over Chelsea and scored on his senior debut in the 3-0 FA Cup defeat of Southampton at Anfield last month.

Koumas’ father Jason was a full Wales international, winning 34 caps between 2001 and 2009 while playing for West Brom, Cardiff and Wigan.

But Koumas was born in Chester and Wales U21 coach Matty Jones said in October that England were “aggressively pursuing” the teenager.

“Absolutely. I’ve always got confidence with our young Welsh lads because when they initially have those experiences (being selected for age-group teams), they connect,” Jones said when asked if he was confident that Koumas would fully commit to Wales.

“The relationships we build, the due diligence we’ve done over the last six to eight weeks. I’ve had four visits to Liverpool and monitored Lewis’ performance.

“I’ve sat and had lunch with him, getting to understand him as a human being.

“To know how to best manage him, what makes him tick and also his threats and abilities he can pose for us as a team.

“The feedback from (manager) Rob Edwards with the exposure he’s had from the 19s has helped us as well.

“All that accumulates into one big package where he can hopefully come in with us and flourish.

“The opportunity is there but let’s not ignore the fact this squad is currently doing really well and there will be competition to get a place in the team.”

Wales play Lithuania in Newport on March 22 and are chasing qualification for the 2025 UEFA European U21 Championship in Slovakia.

The young Dragons trail group leaders Denmark on goal difference and currently occupy a play-off spot.

Wales manager Rob Page has resisted the temptation to invite Koumas into his full squad for now, although the proximity of training for the seniors and U21s at Hensol means the Liverpool youngster could be spending time with Aaron Ramsey and company in some sessions next week.

Jones said: “Lewis is a very ambitious young player and there’s no surprise why he’s excelling.

“The taste he’s had of senior exposure – he’s trained quite regularly with the first-team – has elevated him.

“They’ve taken a liking to him, everyone I’ve spoken to at Liverpool loves his self-confidence and his ability to drive at people and run.

“He’s developing on a daily basis, but the big thing is he can’t wait to come in.

“He’ll be joining us late after the Manchester United-Liverpool game on Sunday, but we couldn’t be in a better place.

“Hopefully there’ll be game time for him and an opportunity to show us what he’s about.”

Defenders Terence Miles (Liverpool) and Alex Williams (West Brom) also make their first appearances in an U21 squad for a double header that includes a friendly with an Olympics-bound Morocco U23 side in Antalya, Turkey, on March 26.

Steve Harmison took seven wickets for 12 runs as England bowled West Indies out for 47 on March 14, 2004.

A damaging spell saw Harmison almost single-handedly knock over West Indies at Sabina Park on their way to a 10-wicket victory in the first Test.

It took just 11.3 overs for the then 25-year-old to pick up his seven wickets, conceding only 12 runs in the process and setting up an emphatic victory for England, who were on their way to a first Test series win in the Caribbean since 1968.

Before the series, 6ft 4in right-armer Harmison had shown lots of potential with his combination of pace and swing but struggled for consistency, while a back injury during the winter had also affected him.

The first innings of the match offered no sign of what was to come as the West Indies racked up 311, but everything changed on the fourth day.

England captain Michael Vaughan lined up eight fielders in the slips and Harmison did the rest as a young West Indies side wilted under a fearsome assault.

“To be honest, I’m absolutely speechless,” said Harmison afterwards.

“If you bowl the ball consistently in a good area, you often get a bit of luck. It’s just one of those days and I’m pleased for myself, but I’m not going to get too carried away by it.”

Harmison’s form continued into the rest of the series, with the Durham man achieving figures of six for 61 in the second Test.

It was the beginning of the best spell of Harmison’s career. A year later he played a key role in England’s famous Ashes triumph over Australia, but injuries limited his impact thereafter and his international career ended in 2009.

Gareth Southgate has headaches to contend with in the goalkeeper and left-back department as the England manager prepares to select his squad for a pair of high-profile Euro 2024 warm-up friendlies on Thursday.

With just three months to go until their tournament opener against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, preparations ramp up with March meetings against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley.

This is the last camp before Southgate names his provisional Euros squad just after the Premier League season concludes, with the final selection to be submitted to UEFA on June 8.

Southgate will be hoping to avoid injury to key players before then but first he has to deal with issues over availability, game time and form in this meet up.

Joe Gomez and Jack Butland have been tipped for recalls, while Kalvin Phillips will be hoping he has enough credit in the bank to earn a call-up despite a disastrous start to life at West Ham.

The selection of Jordan Henderson, another of Southgate’s favourites, has been another major talking point in the build up to the Euros after he joined Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Ettifaq, but has now returned to Europe, signing for Ajax in January.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, seen as a midfielder by Southgate, has been out for a month due to a knee issue, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley knocking on the door, while Tottenham playmaker James Maddison is fit again.

Kobbie Mainoo has been tipped in some quarters for a call-up after bursting onto scene impressively at Manchester United, but the 18-year-old could instead join up with the Under-21s.

United team-mate Marcus Rashford has been less impressive and has hot competition in his area of the field, although Jack Grealish is set to miss out this time due to a groin injury.

Anthony Gordon’s hopes of a maiden senior call-up remain alive with his knee injury sustained during Newcastle’s defeat at Chelsea on Monday not as serious as first feared, while Southgate is sure to be quizzed about the future of Raheem Sterling if the forward is omitted again.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney is pushing to be involved after the one-cap player returned to action in January having completed his Football Association ban for breaching betting rules.

Arguably Southgate’s biggest headache comes at left-back.

Man United boss Erik ten Hag does not expect Luke Shaw to be back fit until May and Chelsea have announced Ben Chilwell is “undergoing specialist medical assessment” on a knee complaint.

Kieran Trippier looks set to miss March’s fixtures, while versatile defender Levi Colwill’s toe complaint could rule him out as well.

Rico Lewis made his bow at left-back and was named man of the match in November’s debut display in North Macedonia, but he has only made four Manchester City appearances in 2024.

 

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Gomez, who won the last of his 11 England caps in 2020, is pushing for a recall having done brilliantly at left-back for Liverpool, while talented Newcastle full-back Tino Livramento has impressed.

Reece James remains out and in-form Ben White has been overlooked since leaving the 2022 World Cup squad.

Marc Guehi has been dealing with a knee injury, but fellow centre-back Harry Maguire should be involved and Eric Dier has made an impressive start to life at Bayern Munich.

Jarrad Branthwaite has also staked a claim with his fine displays at Everton, whose goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is the only definite selection among the shot-stoppers.

Aaron Ramsdale has made just two appearances for Arsenal in 2024 and Sam Johnstone has only recently returned to the Crystal Palace starting line-up.

Nick Pope is out with a dislocated shoulder and Southgate has been keeping a close eye on Butland’s performances at Rangers.

Harry Brook has withdrawn from the Indian Premier League in order to prioritise his mental wellbeing following the death of his grandmother.

The England and Yorkshire batter pulled out of England’s recent Test tour in India in January, citing personal reasons, and in a social media post revealed the reason at the time was because his grandmother “was ill and didn’t have long left”.

In a post on Instagram, the 25-year-old confirmed that he would not be joining up with Delhi Capitals, saying: “I can confirm that I have made the very difficult decision not to play in the upcoming IPL.

 

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“I was so excited to be picked by Delhi Capitals and was so looking forward to joining up with everyone.

“Whilst I don’t think I should need to share my personal reasons behind this decision, I know there will be many asking why. So I do want to share this.

“I lost my Grandmother last month – she was a rock to me and I spent a huge amount of my childhood in her home; my attitude to life and love for cricket was shaped by her and my late grandfather.”

Brook pulled out of England’s five-Test tour to India before the squad flew out from their training camp in the United Arab Emirates.

He added: “I made the decision to leave the India Test tour the night before we flew from Abu Dhabi to India because I was told for the first time that my grandmother was ill and didn’t have long left.

“Now that she has passed my family & I are grieving and I need to be around them.

“Over the last few years I have learned to prioritise my mental wellbeing and that of my family’s, honestly nothing is more important to me than family.

“So whilst this may come as surprising to some, I know it’s the right decision for me. I’m young and hope to have many, many more years of cricket to come which I intend to make the absolute most of.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for the support I have received, especially from the ECB and Delhi Capitals, thank you.”

Brook, who has made four centuries in 12 Test appearances for England, played for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL last season.

Delhi Capitals are due to play their first match of the new season against against Punjab Kings on March 23.

Gareth Southgate has some headaches to contend with as the England manager prepares to select his squad for a pair of high-profile Euro 2024 warm-up friendlies on Thursday.

With just three months to go until their tournament opener against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, preparations ramp up with March meetings against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley.

This is the last camp before Southgate names his provisional Euros squad just after the Premier League season concludes, with the final selection to be submitted to UEFA on June 8.

Southgate will be hoping to avoid injury to key players before then but first he has to deal with issues over availability, game time and form in this meet up.

Joe Gomez and Jack Butland have been tipped for recalls, while Kalvin Phillips will be hoping he has enough credit in the bank to earn a call-up despite a disastrous start to life at West Ham.

The 28-year-old’s loan from Manchester City has not gone to plan and on Sunday he was culpable for the opener against Burnley, then hauled off at half-time.

The selection of Jordan Henderson, another of Southgate’s favourites, has been another major talking point in the build up to the Euros after he joined Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Ettifaq.

The 33-year-old was included in every squad despite last summer’s controversial move but has now returned to Europe, joining Dutch giants Ajax in January.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, seen as a midfielder by Southgate, has been out for a month due to a knee issue, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley among those knocking on the door.

Kobbie Mainoo has been tipped in some quarters for a call-up after bursting onto scene impressively at Manchester United, but the 18-year-old could instead join up with the Under-21 set-up.

United team-mate Marcus Rashford has been less impressive and has hot competition in his area of the field, although Jack Grealish is set to miss out this time due to a groin injury.

Anthony Gordon’s hopes of a maiden senior call-up appear to have been dashed by a knee issue and Southgate is sure to be quizzed about Raheem Sterling’s future if the forward is omitted again.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney is pushing to be involved after the one-cap player completed his Football Association betting ban and returned to action in January.

Arguably Southgate’s biggest headache comes at left-back.

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag does not expect Luke Shaw to be back fit until May and Chelsea have announced Ben Chilwell is “undergoing specialist medical assessment” on a knee complaint.

Kieran Trippier has regularly filled in at left-back but he too looks set to miss March’s fixtures, while versatile defender Levi Colwill’s toe complaint could rule him out as well.

Rico Lewis made his bow at left-back and was named man of the match in November’s debut display in North Macedonia, but he has only made four Manchester City appearances in 2024.

Gomez, who won the last of his 11 England caps in 2020, is pushing for a recall having done brilliantly as left-back for Liverpool, while talented Newcastle full-back Tino Livramento has impressed.

Reece James remains out and in-form Ben White has been overlooked since leaving the 2022 World Cup squad.

Marc Guehi has been dealing with a knee injury, but fellow centre-back Harry Maguire should be fit enough to be involved and Eric Dier has made an impressive start to life at Bayern Munich.

Jarrad Branthwaite has also staked a claim with his fine displays at Everton, whose goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is the only definite selection among the shot-stoppers.

Aaron Ramsdale has made just two appearances for Arsenal since the turn of the year and Sam Johnstone has only recently returned to the Crystal Palace starting line-up.

Nick Pope is out with a dislocated shoulder and Southgate has been keeping a close eye on Butland’s performances at Rangers.

Six Nations chief executive Tom Harrison insists bonus points are unlikely to be abandoned if it transpires that Ireland win this year’s tournament despite claiming fewer victories than England.

England’s triumph over Andy Farrell’s men on Saturday has brought intrigue to the final day of the Guinness Six Nations, with both sides capable of lifting the crown, while France and Scotland also have mathematical chances of winning.

Ireland are in the driving seat and could retain their title even if they lose or draw against Scotland and England topple France, because they have already accumulated four bonus points.

It would be the first time since bonus points were introduced in 2017 that the team finishing top had collected fewer victories than the side in second, but Harrison has indicated the format is here to stay.

When asked about whether a rethink would be needed if the Six Nations was won in that way, Harrison replied: “Yes, if we think bonus points are a problem.

“But remember why bonus points are there – bonus points are there to promote positive rugby. It’s about fan engagement, right?

“It’s also that the players know. It’s not as though we’re saying ‘You’ve played so well we’re going to award you an extra point afterwards’. No, I don’t think it will change.

“I’m delighted that there is some jeopardy going into the final weekend. It’s great. That’s one of the features of the Six Nations – you genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Harrison was speaking at the launch of the Women’s Six Nations in London – a competition England are aiming to win for the sixth successive year, with France their closest rivals.

With their rivals investing more money into their national programmes in an attempt to catch up, Harrison is confident the playing field will level out.

“It would be great to have more competitive matches and I think that, through the investments that have happened just in the last 12 months, we will start to see some of that,” he said.

“Of course, England and France have obviously also upped their game in terms of their performance, and we have had another year of understanding how to become even better.

“Partners are very interested in seeing those improvements and seeing how teams are becoming more competitive.

“And let’s be honest, this isn’t the domination that you might see in Scottish football, for example. We’ve got a couple of years where the gap has widened and I expect that gap to narrow.

“Our role is to provide increased levels of funding for the women’s game because we don’t really get involved in the high-performance space.

“What we can do, though, is ensure those funding streams are healthy, open and exploited to the full extent.”

England should play the long game with Jofra Archer and prime him for India’s visit next year as well as the 2025/26 Ashes, according to former fast bowler Steve Harmison.

Archer’s last Test was more than three years ago, but he remains a much-coveted asset and England are hopeful he will be available for their T20 World Cup title defence in the Caribbean in June.

Harmison, though, believes the next two marquee five-Test series against India in the summer of 2025 then in Australia the following winter should take priority above all else where Archer is concerned.

“It’s slowly but surely with him,” Harmison told the PA news agency. “I’d build Jofra Archer up to play in 10 Test matches over the next two years – five against India and five against Australia or four each.

“I’d treat him like a prize racehorse. If England can keep him fit for the majority of those two series, I’d feel as though they have got a chance of winning.

“If he can play in Test matches in between and his body is holding up then everything after that is a bonus.”

Archer has had a succession of stress fractures in his bowling elbow and another in his back since his most recent red-ball appearance for England, while his last professional appearance was 10 months ago.

He joined England in Barbados before Christmas during their white-ball tour of the West Indies and took part in some bowling drills as part of his rehabilitation from the latest setback in his right elbow.

Just a couple of days afterwards, Archer, who was awarded a two-year central contract in October, blindsided England by playing for his old school side in the Barbados Cricket Association league.

But Harmison feels it could be better for everyone involved if the 28-year-old is allowed to get back to full fitness away from prying eyes.

“When I heard he was playing in that game in Barbados, I was over the moon, I just wish he had told (England’s managing director of men’s cricket) Rob Key first,” Harmison said.

“If he turns up for the T20 World Cup, fantastic, if he turns up for a Test match this summer, fantastic, but the most important thing for me is about his mental health and making sure he’s in a position to play cricket without thinking, ‘In however many weeks, I’m going to be injured again’.

“The more he does the bowling repetition and the muscle memory stuff under less scrutiny and less pressure, the better it will be for him coming back into top-level cricket.”

England have won three and lost six of their last 10 Tests against India and Australia and, in both series, there were instances where Ben Stokes’ side let promising positions slip.

After India sealed a 4-1 triumph in Dharamsala on Sunday, England head coach Brendon McCullum admitted they were too “timid” in passages and said their ‘Bazball’ style would be refined.

Harmison, who criticised England’s lack of a warm-up match before the series, expects them to rebound with six wins out of six against the West Indies and Sri Lanka this summer, but he insisted there must be lessons learned from what happened in India.

“They’ll win all six Test matches comfortably,” said Harmison, who played 123 times for England between 2002 and 2009. “It’s not a case of looking at just the summer, they’ve got to look beyond that.

“They’ve got to be smarter in identifying situations. We’ve got some cricket brains leading this team, but sometimes inside that dressing room, we might have individual characters who are happy to say, ‘That’s the way we play’, and that’s not good enough for me, it’s not acceptable.

“They have to be more accountable when they make mistakes. This is not the Dog and Duck, this is Test match cricket.

“Having the crutch of, ‘That’s the way we play, it’s Bazball’. No, Bazball is giving you the freedom to be the best version of yourself possible. You’ve still got to play the situation.”

Brendon McCullum insisted England will “come back bigger, stronger and more refined” following their 4-1 Test series defeat in India.

Here, the PA news agency looks at five aspects that should be addressed by head coach McCullum and captain Ben Stokes before England’s next Test against the West Indies at Lord’s on July 10.

Who takes the gloves?

Ben Foakes was just about flawless behind the stumps once again but he did not record a single fifty, with his career average dipping below 30, and struggles to assert himself in the fashion England want.

Jonny Bairstow is not as proficient with the gloves and also flattered to deceive in India, but he averages 59 at home under McCullum and Stokes and can marshal the tail in a way Foakes is seemingly unable to.

Knocking on the door away from those pair is Ollie Robinson of Durham and Jamie Smith at Surrey.

Jack, Tom or Shoaib?

Not for over a decade have England had such plentiful spin options.

England took a bit of a punt on Tom Hartley and especially Shoaib Bashir but the duo demonstrated they have the mettle for Test cricket.

Rehan Ahmed showed determination, too, but might be more suited to the white-ball formats for now.

Jack Leach’s fitness issues in the past 12 months mean he is not guaranteed to be inked in for the English summer, with just one spinner usually required.

Hartley may be more suited to Asian conditions but 20-year-old Bashir is someone England should invest in. Leach’s position as premier spinner at Somerset means Bashir could be sent on loan elsewhere in the early county season.

Identify a replacement for James Anderson

The evergreen swing king reached Test wicket 700 in the final Test after several months in the 690s.

Anderson has given no outward indication he is ready to slow down but time waits for no one and England must be prepared when the day comes the 41-year-old decides to hang up his spikes.

Any sign of decline after a poor Ashes showing was quietened a little with solid, if unspectacular, performances in India in unhelpful conditions.

While his longevity is astounding, wickets are his main currency and he has just 15 of them in his last eight Tests at a bloated average of 50.8.

In two marquee series against England’s biggest rivals, that is a poor return but he is not one to be kept subdued for long.

Settle on a seam attack

Anderson may well be able to keep going until the next Ashes series in 2025-26 but he has lost his long-time opening bowling partner in Stuart Broad.

That did not matter so much in India but on green seamers in England, there will be no shortage of candidates looking to step into Broad’s shoes.

Chris Woakes is likely to come back into contention although he is 35 himself, so it could be the next generation who come through.

Gus Atkinson impressed the backroom staff despite not playing in India and McCullum tipped the quick to make his Test debut in the summer.

Matthew Potts, Brydon Carse and Josh Tongue are pushing to be involved while Ollie Robinson must get to the bottom of his fitness issues.

Back Ollie Pope

England’s vice-captain had one of the more curious series of modern times.

A breakout 196, which Joe Root called “one of the best knocks that I’ve ever seen”, carried England to a stunning victory in Hyderabad.

But he did not reach 40 after that, made a pair at Ranchi and looked increasingly frenetic.

England have been encouraged by his growing confidence as an authority figure on the field as deputy to Stokes and will hope that can filter through to his batting.

Pope has already been shuffled around a lot in a 43-Test career and his talent is undeniable so he just needs to find a way of taking the edge off when he goes out to bat.

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