Crystal Palace forward Eberechi Eze has been handed a first call-up to the senior England squad for next month’s Euro 2024 qualifying matches.
Eze was the only uncapped player in Gareth Southgate’s 25-man party, while there were recalls for Brighton defender Lewis Dunk, Newcastle striker Callum Wilson, Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings and Palace goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
The 24-year-old has taken a circuitous route to England recognition, having been released by Arsenal and Millwall as a teenager before breaking through at Queens Park Rangers and earning a Premier League chance at Palace, where he has thrived.
Eze can play as a No10 or as a wide forward and may benefit from the decision to rest Raheem Sterling or the fixtures against Malta and North Macedonia.
“We have liked him for a long time. I think he has finished the season really strongly. He can play in a couple of positions across the attacking line,” said Southgate.
“He is a goal threat, he’s got nice ability and speed to go past people and can take people out of the game with his dribbling skills. We are looking forward to seeing him a bit closer.”
Sterling’s omission was a result of concerns about his condition following conversations between Southgate and the Chelsea forward, who has just six league goals this season.
“He’s not happy physically with his condition, having been carrying a hamstring problem,” said the manager. “He really wasn’t in consideration. We didn’t get to the point of whether he should be in or out. He doesn’t think he is operating at the level he needs.”
Southgate also hinted that England could deploy Alexander-Arnold in the hybrid full-back-midfielder role that he is enjoying at Liverpool.
“He is a super footballer. He has always been in advanced areas of the pitch with the ball. He is just a bit more central now,” he added.
“That’s interesting for us – no question. It’s something I’ve talked to him about and we’re looking forward to working with Trent.”
Group C leaders England visit Malta on 16 June and host North Macedonia three days later at Old Trafford.