Raheem Sterling has been left out of England’s squad for their upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers after holding talks with manager Gareth Southgate.
The Chelsea forward will not feature against Malta at the Ta’ Qali National Stadium on June 16 and North Macedonia at Old Trafford on June 19 after it was mutually decided he should rest ahead of the 2023-24 campaign.
A representative of Sterling said of his omission: “Following a private conversation between coach and player, a mutual decision has been made for Raheem Sterling to sit out the upcoming internationals, focusing instead on recuperating his body in preparation for the upcoming season.”
Southgate said after naming his squad: “I spoke with him a week or so ago, a general catch-up; he’s not happy physically with his condition, he’s been carrying a hamstring problem. He really wasn’t in consideration. He doesn’t think he’s operating at the level he needs.”
Sterling has scored nine goals in 37 appearances during a difficult debut season at Chelsea.
The 28-year-old had to leave England’s World Cup camp in Qatar after fears over the safety of his family after he reported a burglary at his Surrey home.
Sterling, who has been capped 82 times by his country, returned to Qatar in time for England’s quarter-final defeat by France.
He was left out of England’s squad for their wins over Ukraine and Italy in March.
Dunk, Eze rewarded as Wilson, Mings return
Brighton & Hove Albion centre-back Lewis Dunk has been named in England’s squad, as reported by The Athletic on Monday, after impressing for the south coast side this season.
The 31-year-old has just one England cap to his name and that came in 2018.
Crystal Palace attacker Eberechi Eze could make his England debut after a receiving a first call-up on the back of scoring six goals during his last eight appearances for his club.
Eze’s club team-mate, Sam Johnstone, has also been included due to an injury to Newcastle’s Nick Pope.
“We’ve liked him for a very long time,” said Southgate of Eze. “He was unfortunate just before the Euros, we were going to call him up for a preparation camp and he picked up an injury.
“He finished the season really strongly, he can play in a couple of positions across that attacking line, he’s a goal threat, he has a burst of speed to go past people and take people out the game with his dribbling skills. Everyone I speak to speaks brilliantly about him as a person as well.”
Callum Wilson, fresh from helping Newcastle United qualify for the Champions League, returns to England’s squad with the suspended Ivan Toney having to drop out due to his betting ban.
Southgate has revealed he spoke to Toney after his eight-month ban was confirmed and is willing to support the Brentford striker in whatever way possible.
“I have (spoken to him),” Southgate added. “I don’t know if that’s allowed, by the way, but if it isn’t they can ban me.
“The ban is the ban, it is what it is, he recognised and accepted the punishment. We’ve got to look after people. He’s injured at the moment, what does he do about getting fit, about structure in the next few months to better himself.
“I don’t like the idea of leaving someone not to be part of the football community, I don’t think that’s how the best rehabilitation programmes would work.
“When he comes back, if he plays well we’ll pick him. I think he’ll have additional motivation, he’s a resilient guy with great character and we’re here to support him.”
Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings has also been recalled by Southgate having lost his place in England’s squad last summer.
When asked about the form of centre-backs Dunk and Mings, Southgate replied: “Both clubs have been excellent. Unai Emery has done a brilliant job at Villa, they’re a really well coached team and Brighton’s football has been exceptional.
“Dunk has shown great composure with the ball, great in one v one situations, he thoroughly deserves his call.”
England top their qualification group after wins over Italy and Ukraine in their opening two matches.
England squad for Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia
Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal).
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City).
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham).
Forwards: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Callum Wilson (Newcastle United).
How does Euro 2024 qualification work?
Hosts Germany will be joined by 23 teams at next year’s finals.
The qualifying campaign runs from March to November 2023 and splits 53 teams into 10 groups.
Ten group winners and 10 runners-up will progress to the final tournament, with the remaining three spots decided via the 2022-23 Nations League play-offs in March 2024.
See the full Euro 2024 qualifying schedule, fixtures and kick-off times here.
When is Euro 2024?
The month-long Euro 2024 finals will start on Friday, June 14, with the final scheduled to take place at Berlin’s 70,000-capacity Olympiastadion on Sunday July 14.
The tournament will take place across 10 host cities: Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart.
(Photo: Getty Images)