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England squad: Anthony Gordon and Jarrad Branthwaite receive first call-ups

England squad: Anthony Gordon and Jarrad Branthwaite receive first call-ups

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Jarrad Branthwaite, Evan Toney and Anthony Gordon

Anthony Gordon and Jarrad Branthwaite have received their first England call-ups, and Ivan Toney has also been called up for friendlies against Brazil and Belgium this month.

Striker Gordon (23 years old) scored ten goals in all competitions for Newcastle this season, while defender Branthwaite, 21 years old, shone with struggling Everton.

Brentford striker Toney, 28, makes his first appearance since completing an eight-month ban for breaching FA betting rules in January.

Uncapped Aston Villa defender Ezri Konsa, 26, was also named in the 25-man squad.

England will play Brazil on March 23 and Belgium on March 26, both at Wembley Stadium, in their last two matches before coach Gareth Southgate announces his squad for the 2024 European Championship.

Defender Joe Gomez, who has not played for England since 2020, has been included after impressing for Liverpool at left-back, centre-back and right-back this season.

Former Liverpool teammate Jordan Henderson, now at Ajax, has been selected, but midfielder Kalvin Phillips, on loan to West Ham from Manchester City, will miss out.

Chelsea striker Cole Palmer appears, while Blues teammate Raheem Sterling has been overlooked once again.

Meanwhile, Southgate said he received a phone call from Arsenal sporting director Edu last week to say in-form defender Ben White did not want to be selected.

England national team

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal).

Defenders: Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), John Stones (Man City), Kyle Walker (Man City) ). ).

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Ajax), James Maddison (Tottenham), Declan Rice (Arsenal).

Attackers: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford) ). – Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

Southgate is 'amazed' by Branthwaite's rapid rise

Branthwaite has been an outstanding player for Everton this season, scoring twice in 25 Premier League appearances.

“We watched him as a reserve centre-back for the Under-21s,” Southgate said. “If you had said a year ago that he would be constantly playing in the Premier League, I would have been surprised.

“Credit to [Everton manager] Sean Dyche. He's on merit. We look forward to taking a look at it.”

Gomez (26 years old) participated in 24 league matches with Liverpool this season, and played a number of roles to cover injuries.

“He's a lovely lad,” Southgate said. “I've known him since the Under-17s' win in Malta when he was at Charlton. We love working with Joe.”

Phillips, who was a key member of Southgate's previous squad, has struggled to find his form since joining West Ham.

“At the moment, I can't be confident in the performances Calvin has put in in the last few weeks that he can get on the pitch and do the job that we know he's capable of,” the England coach said.

“This is probably the least he's been able to get for the last few months. Now he can do this and be himself.”

“He knows exactly what we're thinking. A good version of him is an important player for us. We don't have many players like that.”

Meanwhile, Southgate said midfielder Henderson, who has won 80 caps for England, was included in the squad because of his “winning experience and winning mentality”.

“The impact he can have on a game is still there, obviously not the 24-year-old Hendondo,” Southgate added. “But to win football games, you need a lot of different characteristics.”

“He is desperate to stay a part of this, and for us, at this moment in time, he can still play an important role.”

Phil McNulty, BBC Sport's chief football writer

England's squad for the upcoming friendlies at Wembley is notable for its inclusions and particularly notable exclusions.

Southgate has now accepted that there are no reasons to continue selecting Kalvin Phillips after a display of loyalty that extended beyond what the midfielder, who has been a regular presence in the team throughout recent years, was offering at club level.

Phillips had been on the sidelines at Manchester City, and his January loan move to West Ham United, designed to reignite his career and give him game time to press his Euro 2024 claims, was a nightmare.

Elsewhere, there is positive news for others as Southgate considers his options before finalizing his plans for Germany in the summer.

Branthwaite's maiden England call-up is a well-deserved reward, while Gomez is another player who deserves his place in the team, having shown remarkable versatility as well as consistency in Liverpool's run to four titles.

England's centre-back is the main question mark ahead of Euro 2024, so there is plenty of incentive for Branthwaite and Gomez, along with Aston Villa's Konsa, who will be hoping to be rewarded for his consistency in his full debut.

Southgate also showed his enduring faith in 33-year-old Henderson following his return to Europe with Ajax following his ill-fated and much-criticised move to the Saudi Professional League with Al-Ettifaq.

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