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Euro 2024 qualifiers: Gareth Southgate to name England squad for Italy and Ukraine games

Giacomo Raspadori scores for Italy against England at the World Cup
Giacomo Raspadori scored the only goal for Italy in their 1-0 win over England in September

England begin their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign this month with the first games since their defeat by France in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Gareth Southgate’s side play in Italy on 23 March, before a home match against Ukraine three days later.

The manager names his squad on Thursday with difficult decisions to make.

BBC Sport has looked at some selection questions the England boss will need to answer, and if there are likely to be surprises.

England lost 2-1 to France on 10 December in Qatar, with Southgate, who took the Three Lions to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and the final of Euro 2020, saying he was “conflicted” on whether he should stay in charge of the national side.

But Southgate, 52, later said he would remain until the end of Euro 2024, which will take place next summer in Germany.

England have their toughest task first, in Naples against top seeds Italy who beat Southgate’s side in the Euro 2020 final, and then in the Nations League in September.

With Ukraine then visiting Wembley on 26 March, Southgate could go with his tried and tested players, with more flexibility to experiment in the June double-header against Malta away then home to North Macedonia.

Yet some players will be anxiously waiting for the squad announcement.

Toney backed by Brentford boss for call-up

Uncapped Brentford striker Ivan Toney is the second-highest English goalscorer in the Premier League with 16 this season, five less than Tottenham’s Harry Kane on 20 and one more than Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford on 14.

Toney, 26, was called up for September’s Nations League games against Germany and Italy, but did not feature in either.

He has admitted to a number of the 262 charges issued against him for breaching Football Association gambling rules but remains available for selection until the case is resolved.

His club boss Thomas Frank felt Toney deserved to play for England, and said: “If you look at the performances I don’t think you can get past him, but I know there are different types and it depends on what kind of strikers he [Southgate] wants.

“But Ivan has shown on goals and assists – two pretty good numbers to be high on – and performances that he is the number two behind Harry [Kane].”

Ivan Toney celebrates scoring for Brentford
Ivan Toney has scored 16 of Brentford’s 42 Premier League goals this season

Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho is another player hoping to be named after being left out of the World Cup squad.

Newcastle’s Callum Wilson, who did go to Qatar, has only scored one goal in 13 games in all competitions since, while Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling missed his side’s 3-1 win over Leicester on Saturday with a hamstring injury.

Will Southgate keep faith in Maguire?

A recurring question for Southgate before the World Cup was whether he would include Manchester United captain Harry Maguire – and it is still a relevant one with the centre-half struggling for Premier League game time.

Maguire, 30, has been a key part of England’s starting XI at the past two major tournaments, but has only started five league matches this season.

Elsewhere, Southgate will be boosted by the return of Chelsea pair Reece James and Ben Chilwell after injuries kept them out of the World Cup.

Fikayo Tomori, who has three England caps, has been a regular for AC Milan this season and impressed as the Italian side knocked Tottenham out of the Champions League last week.

Brighton boss Roberto de Zerbi has said Seagulls captain Lewis Dunk deserved international recognition, while 18-year-old Manchester City full-back Rico Lewis has impressed this season and forced himself into Pep Guardiola’s side.

Fresh faces?

Liverpool central midfielder Jordan Henderson, Newcastle full-back Kieran Trippier and Manchester City defender Kyle Walker are all aged 32 and the oldest players in England’s World Cup squad, but it would be a major shock if any were left out by Southgate.

Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips went to Qatar but is another player lacking minutes for his club, while Chelsea duo Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher have struggled to secure regular starts under manager Graham Potter.

Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse missed out on the World Cup, but has since scored six goals in a struggling Saints side bottom of the Premier League.

Brighton’s Solly March is another player tipped for an England call-up by his team boss, and 19-year-old Harvey Elliott has featured in all Liverpool’s Premier League matches this season.

The Italy and Ukraine games may come too early though for three-cap Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe, who has only just returned to action after two months out with a groin injury.

Who was named in the World Cup squad?

England squad graphic
This was the England squad Gareth Southgate selected for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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