England manager Gareth Southgate has named his 27-man squad for the Three Lions’ upcoming friendlies against Italy and the Netherlands, and several big stars missed out.
England topped their group to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, and will prepare for the tournament with some competitive friendlies in the coming days.
The Three Lions will take on the Netherlands on 23 March, before playing hosts to Italy on 27 March. Neither the Dutch nor the Azzurri will be playing at the World Cup in June-July, but both nations will provide Southgate’s men with more than efficient competition.
Star striker Harry Kane will miss the friendlies through an injury that is likely to see him side-lined for about four weeks, while there were also a few surprise inclusions, with the likes of Lewis Cook, Danny Welbeck and Nick Pope being selected for the team.
Here is England’s 27-man squad in full, as announced by the FA on Thursday:
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Jack Butland, Joe Hart
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand, Eric Dier, Joe Gomez, Alfie Mawson, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, Kyle Walker, John Stones, James Tarkowski, Kieran Trippier
Midfielders: Dele Alli, Lewis Cook, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Jesse Lingard, Jake Livermore, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Ashley Young
Forwards: Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy, Danny Welbeck
New Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman has dropped Daley Blind and Daryl Janmaat from his squad to play England.
Both had been named in Koeman’s provisional squad for the game – on March 23 in Amsterdam – but failed to make the cut when the former Everton and Southampton boss named his 25-man matchday squad.
Koeman has included six Premier League players in the 25-man squad. Crystal Palace duo Patrick van Aanholt and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are selected alongside the Liverpool pair of Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum, Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake and Brighton’s Davy Propper.
There are five uncapped players, including 18-year-old Ajax winger Justin Kluivert, the son of former Netherlands striker Patrick Kluivert.
Koeman’s other new names were AZ Alkmaar players Marco Bizot, Guus Til and Wout Weghorst and Hans Hateboer of Atalanta.
Gianluigi Buffon looks set to extend his international career after being included in Italy’s squad for the upcoming friendlies against Argentina and England.
The Juventus goalkeeper fought back the tears when announcing his retirement after the Azzurri lost 1-0 on aggregate to Sweden in a World Cup play-off last November.
However, the 40-year-old has softened his stance since then and, having held a meeting with interim Italy coach Luigi Di Biagio in February, could extend his record of 175 caps
As well as picking Buffon, Di Biagio – who has stepped up from his role as Under-21 boss on a temporary basis – has also named uncapped forwards Federico Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone in a 26-man squad.
There is a recall for Milan midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura, who won the last of his eight caps in December 2016, but Mario Balotelli and Simone Zaza both miss out.
Italy face Argentina at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on March 23 before taking on England at Wembley four days later.
Odds for the Amsterdam game are Netherlands 6/4, England 15/8 and the draw 11/5 with William Hill
With England taking the final chances to experiment and missing Kane, whilst Koeman has his eyes on the future the draw looks the most attractive of the three options.