Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho not in England squad while Marc Guehi earns first call-up

England play Switzerland on March 26 and Ivory Coast at Wembley on March 29 as they prepare for 2022 World Cup; Man City's Kyle Walker also out of the squad, with Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold and Chelsea's Reece James preferred, but Gareth Southgate says Walker will return in June

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England manager Gareth Southgate says the performances of other players have pushed Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford out of the latest national squad

Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have been left out of the England squad, while Crystal Palace centre-back Marc Guehi has earned his first call-up.

England are preparing for the winter World Cup in Qatar and have lined up two Wembley friendlies against Switzerland on March 26 and Ivory Coast on March 29.

MArc Guehi
Image: Guehi has been promoted to the England senior side

Kyle Walker is also out of the 25-man squad, with Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold and Chelsea's Reece James preferred, but Gareth Southgate says the Manchester City right-back will return for the June internationals.

"It is a difficult time for [Rashford]. He's clearly not at his best. There's plenty of time, we know a lot about Marcus anyway and hopefully he can rediscover some of his form."
Gareth Southgate

Southgate says the form of others pushed Rashford and Sancho out of his squad, with Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish preferred in the attacking wide areas.

Rashford, who was included in the squad in November, has been dropped after scoring just twice since then, and having been used largely as a substitute by United interim boss Ralf Rangnick since the turn of the year.

Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford
Image: It has been a difficult season for Rashford and Sancho with United

Southgate said: "It is a difficult time for [Rashford]. He's clearly not at his best. There's plenty of time, we know a lot about Marcus anyway and hopefully he can rediscover some of his form."

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England manager Gareth Southgate says Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi's calmness and consistency on and off the ball have earned him his first call-up to the senior national squad

Meanwhile, Sancho misses out again despite being handed more playing time in recent weeks for United.

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Explaining Sancho's exclusion, Southgate said: "Because with the other attacking players in the squad are slightly ahead of him in the moment in our feeling."

Guehi, who was signed from Chelsea in the summer, has impressed at Palace under Patrick Vieira on his debut Premier League season and has been promoted from the U21s.

Marc Guehi's defensive action area for Crystal Palace in the 2021/22 Premier League season
Image: Marc Guehi's defensive action area for Crystal Palace in the 2021/22 Premier League season

On the inclusion of Guehi, the England manager said: "With Marc, he's had a really consistent season. I've been very impressed with him on and off the ball. In the biggest games, he's been very calm.

Marc Guehi's stats for Crystal Palace in the 2021/22 Premier League season
Image: Marc Guehi's stats for Crystal Palace in the 2021/22 Premier League season

"We know a lot about him through our development teams as well - he's a junior World Cup winner - so there are some centre halves who are pushing and we're very close, but we've added Marc and Ben White this time and we think it's a good opportunity to see two slightly younger players and see how they cope being with us."

There are six players in the 25-man squad - Nick Pope, Guehi, James Ward-Prowse, Conor Gallagher, Smith Rowe, and Abraham - who were not involved in the Euros.

There was no place in the squad for Crystal Palace forward Michael Olise, who has caught Southgate's eye this season, with big uncertainty about where his international future lies.

The Hammersmith-born 20-year-old, who is eligible for four different nations, was on Friday called up for the France U21s for the first time, having represented them previously at U18 level.

England's 25-man squad

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), Nick Pope (Burnley)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Coady (Wolves), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Roma), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

England squad an indictment of where Man Utd are

Harry Maguire
Image: Out-of-form Harry Maguire has been included

Sky Sports News' Rob Dorsett

There are only two Manchester United players in the senior England squad of 25 - Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw. One is out of form, the other is not fully fit. It's an indictment of where United are as a team right now - without a trophy for their fifth successive season - that they are so under-represented in the England set up.

The omission of Marcus Rashford was expected. He's enduring a very difficult period in his footballing career, where it just isn't working. Ralf Rangnick has recognised that - that's why the 24-year-old has started just three Premier League games in this calendar year, and scored just twice in four months.

Jadon Sancho's omission is more of a surprise, because Southgate himself admitted his level of performances has improved considerably in recent times. Two goals and three assists in six Premier League games attests to that. But Southgate was pointed in saying Sancho's level still is not good enough to make his squad of 25. He is right.

Sancho is competing directly with Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish and Emile Smith Rowe. Which of those five players is Sancho ahead of? None, according to the England boss. So even though Sancho is performing well enough be a regular, and one of the best players currently, at Manchester United - he is not playing well enough to be one of England's best five.

Harry Maguire's inclusion in this squad is much more about his reliability for England in the past, rather than his form for United currently. Southgate admitted as much. He also said selection can never be a fully objective decision.

Luke Shaw has made a positive impact for Manchester United over the last two seasons (Andrew Yates/Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
Image: Luke Shaw, despite not being fully fit, is also in the England squad

While he always tries to select players who are most in-form for their clubs, the national manager cannot be held to ransom in this regard, otherwise the England squad would have little consistently from one training camp to the next, and it would make it impossible to prepare a group of players for major tournaments. Remember, Southgate has only three training camps (about 30 full training days) between now and the start of the World Cup in Qatar in November.

So Maguire keeps his place - even though there are significant numbers of English central defenders who are performing better in the Premier League right now: Eric Dier and Fikayo Tomori, neither of whom made this squad, are cases in point. Conor Coady, Ben White and Marc Guehi are similar examples, who will join up alongside Maguire on Tuesday.

Shaw's inclusion on England's list is a symptom of the spate of injuries that have hit a host of other English left-backs. Ben Chilwell is out for the season, Kieran Trippier is still two months from training again, and Bukayo Saka is flying at right wing, and so is not a consideration at full-back.

If Shaw cannot prove his fitness with United this weekend, or if his club physios feel he needs more rehabilitation, it wouldn't be a surprise if he were to withdraw from Southgate's squad. If that happens, it's now clear Crystal Palace's Tyrick Mitchell is first in line for a call up.

But more to the point, that would mean Manchester United have just one single player in the senior men's England squad. That is almost unheard of.

Could Ramsdale unseat Pickford for the World Cup?

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Sky Sports' Zinny Boswell on the Essential Football Podcast:

"He's definitely been the best English goalkeeper performing in the Premier League this season, but - and it's a big but - Jordan Pickford, despite the criticism he gets at Everton, has never let Gareth Southgate down.

"Before the Euros, there were a lot of question marks over whether he should play, but he was pretty spotless at that tournament.

"It would be a massive call if come Qatar, Southgate says 'on your bike' and puts Ramsdale in goal. Any mistake would just be magnified, and everyone would be asking where Pickford was.

"Saying that, I would just stress again that he's definitely been the best English goalkeeper this season, so it's certainly up for debate."

England's confirmed 2022 fixtures

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England manager Gareth Southgate says his side has to take an extra step if they want to be successful in Qatar at the World Cup at the end of this year, as he sat down with Geoff Shreeves to discuss his Legends of Football award

Friendlies

Saturday, March 26: Switzerland (h)
Tuesday, March 29: Ivory Coast (h)

Nations League

June 4: Hungary (a)
June 8: Germany (a)
June 11: Italy (h)
June 14: Hungary (h)
September 23: Italy (a)
September 26: Germany (h)

World Cup 2022 starts in November: Dates, draw, schedule, kick-off times

When and where is the 2022 World Cup?

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England manager Gareth Southgate says his side has to take an extra step if they want to be successful in Qatar at the World Cup at the end of this year, as he sat down with Geoff Shreeves to discuss his Legends of Football award

The 2022 World Cup is taking place in Qatar in the winter months rather than the usual summer ones, due to the heat.

The tournament kicks off on Monday November 21 at the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor with a match that will feature the host country.

The final will be played at the Lusail Stadium in Doha a week before Christmas on Sunday December 18.

Who has qualified so far?

As hosts, Qatar received automatic qualification to next year's tournament

Four-time World Cup winners Germany were the first team to guarantee a spot through the qualification process in Europe, while Brazil - the most successful national team in World Cup history with five trophies - secured swift qualification as one of the top four teams in South America's groups.

England secured their place in November by topping their qualifying group.

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