Gareth Southgate has named his latest England squad for the upcoming Nations League matches in June and there are some new faces among the ranks.
Jarrod Bowen and James Justin have both been called up to the senior squad for the first time, with Fikayo Tomori recalled after winning the Serie A title with AC Milan.
Tammy Abraham is also included, although the likes of Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw and Jordan Henderson have not been called up for June’s Nations League fixtures against Hungary, Germany and Italy.
Here, the Sky Sports Football team take a look at the main talking points from the latest England squad announcement…
Bowen consistency favoured over Maddison
David Moyes backed Jarrod Bowen to receive a call-up to the England team as far back as January and it is clear to see why.
The 25-year-old was a stand-out performer for West Ham this season, scoring 12 Premier League goals and providing 10 assists.
His 22 goal involvements are the third most in a single campaign in the competition by a West Ham player, after Paolo Di Canio (29 in 1999/00) and John Hartson (23 in 1997/98).
It is remarkable to think the playmaker has never represented his country at an age-group level, but that is reflective of his meteoric rise.
Hereford-born Bowen has all the attributes to thrive at international level: quick, direct, mobile and energetic, Southgate will finally have the chance to work with the player at close quarters.
The England boss has always stressed the importance of versatility when naming a tournament squad, and the former Hull forward can play in multiple positions across the front line.
This is not a last-minute gate-crash. Bowen’s inclusion has been a long time coming, with a heel injury ruling him out of the friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast earlier this year.
James Maddison finished the campaign strongly, scoring in four consecutive Premier League appearances for Leicester – he was involved in seven goals in his last four matches in the competition – but Bowen has been producing the goods consistently over nine months.
While Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have both struggled for form and fitness, Bowen has been thriving and with the World Cup just six months away, the Hammer has bent his run at the perfect time.
Tomori in, Mings out
Overlooked in March for England’s friendly double-header against Switzerland and Ivory Coast despite being instrumental in AC Milan’s establishment of a five-point lead at the top of Serie A, it was becoming increasingly difficult to know what else Fikayo Tomori had to do to force his way into the England set-up.
But having maintained his impressive form through to the end of the season – and having helped Milan clinch their first Scudetto in 11 years – Southgate could not overlook the former Chelsea centre-back any longer.
Tomori’s campaign and figures are as impressive, as consistent as any defender in Europe, let alone those vying for an England call-up. Three clean sheets in Milan’s final four league games of the season, including in the final-day 3-0 win over Sassuolo which clinched the title, were further indications of a player bang in form and primed for a return to the international stage.
Tomori’s resurgence has coincided with the decline of Aston Villa centre-back Tyrone Mings, a mainstay in Southgate’s squads since making his debut in 2019 but now overlooked.
Mings has never let England down and the door certainly hasn’t been closed on him, but Southgate will hope this setback acts as a catalyst for the 29-year-old to find his form and force himself back into contention before Qatar. He need look no further than Tomori for inspiration.
Why Abraham deserves his chance as Kane’s understudy
Lower back pain cruelly denied Tammy Abraham the opportunity to underline his resurgence at AS Roma during England’s March internationals. It was the latest setback in a frustrating international career to date.
The striker featured at the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Poland and made his senior debut later that year in November, but three goals in 10 caps across nearly five years highlights the disrupted journey the player has been on to find a place he feels at home.
That has changed this season in Italy, and Abraham’s next challenge is to replicate his club form in an England jersey. He scored 17 goals in Serie A this season, a record for an English player in a single campaign of the Italian top-flight, leading to reports he might be in line for a return to the Premier League this summer.
Arsenal are said to have expressed an interest but it is Jose Mourinho who has been getting the best out of the 24-year-old. His four doubles in Serie A this term is a joint record for an English player in Europe’s top five leagues in 2021/22, alongside Jamie Vardy.
Having failed to make the grade as Chelsea’s first-choice striker, Abraham is reinventing himself at Roma as someone who has liked grabbing the initiative – no player scored the first goal in a Serie A match more times this season (10).
Harry Kane is four goals short of Wayne Rooney’s all-time goalscoring record, and will want to surpass it before Qatar 2022, but these Nations League games are effectively warm-ups for the World Cup.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has opened up about his struggles this term, while Callum Wilson has shown signs he is returning to form following his long lay-off. But this is Abraham’s turn to show he can be called upon next winter if Plan B is required.
Southgate freshens up his squad from Euros
It is not even a year since Gareth Southgate named his 26-man squad for Euro 2020 but the one he has named today looks very different as he ramps up his preparations for the World Cup.
In total, there are 10 different faces from last summer, among them Bowen and Justin, who earn their first call ups.
As is usually the case with Southgate’s England squads, this one has a youthful feel, summed up by the decision to omit the 31-year-old Jordan Henderson in favour of the 22-year-old Conor Gallagher. Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier are the only players over 30.
Others who were included at the Euros but miss out this time around are Luke Shaw, TMings, Rashford, Sancho, Sam Johnstone, Ben Chilwell and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Chilwell, currently sidelined by a serious knee injury but due to return next season, is perhaps the only one of those who will feel safe of his place at the World Cup.
With only one other England meet-up scheduled between now and the tournament, the rest will have their work cut out to change Southgate’s mind – especially with others looking to catch his eye too.
No rest for Saka
It is not a surprise to see Bowen in the England squad but it perhaps is a greater shock to see Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka not given a rest following his arduous season for the Gunners.
The 20-year-old is one of only two players – the other being Conor Coady – in this latest England squad to have played in every single Premier League match this season – with Saka amassing just nine minutes short of 3,000 in the top flight.
Indeed, Arsenal’s top goalscorer only missed two matches for Mikel Arteta’s side in all competitions in the season just gone, with the young winger looking exhausted as the campaign drew to its close.
Saka’s last goal from open play came just before England’s last international break on March 19 in a 1-0 win over Aston Villa, while he has failed to register an assist from a non-dead ball scenario in 13 matches.
After that win at Villa, Gunners boss Arteta called for Southgate to give the winger a break – yet that fell on deaf ears. While Saka ended up missing England’s fixtures two months ago due to coronavirus, Arteta was forced to speak to Southgate personally about controlling his minutes.
Now Southgate has brought Saka back into the England fold and appearances in all four of the games this month will see the winger’s appearance total hit 47.
It has been a lung-bursting two years for Saka, who played 46 times in the 2020-21 campaign before becoming one of the surprise contributors to England’s run to the Euro 2020 final, where he missed a penalty in a mentally draining moment for the youngster.
Now Saka is competing with Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and new man Bowen for an England starting spot on England’s right-hand side – a contest that Arteta may hope he doesn’t win should he want his star man back fit and firing for next season at Arsenal.