No Liverpool players have made Gareth Southgate’s England Under-21 squad for the upcoming European Championships in the Czech Republic, with Raheem Sterling and Jordon Ibe the most notable omissions.
Sterling, 20, was widely expected to miss-out, with Southgate preferring to pick players who have not already established themselves with Roy Hodgson’s first-team. Indeed, Sterling has already played 14 times for the Three Lions, with his first cap coming back in 2012.
Southgate has admitted that he was permitted to pick players such as Sterling but wanted to remain faithful to his current group. In quotes taken by the Liverpool Echo, he said: “I was able to pick them if I wanted to. Roy told me from the start that I could pick who I wanted. We say that we would have had a better chance but we don’t necessarily know that.
“I think every Under-21 manager in Europe is faced with that balance. Some of our players have been to a senior World Cup and a senior European Championship. We feel to bring them down isn’t quite right for their development.”
The likes of Ross Barkley, Jack Wilshere and Luke Shaw – all eligible for the tournament – also didn’t make the cut.
However, there are likely to be some raised eyebrows about the absence of Ibe. The 19-year-old is yet to feature for England at Under-21 level but has been in fine form during the second-half of the season, since returning from his loan deal with Derby County.
Considering that Ibe is also eligible to play for Nigeria, it’s surprising that the England hierarchy would not jump at the opportunity to prove that the player is part of their future plans.
The squad can be seen in full below:
Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham), Jonathan Bond (Watford), Jack Butland (Stoke City)
Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Garbutt (Everton), Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough), Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal, on loan at West Ham United), Michael Keane (Burnley), Liam Moore (Leicester City), John Stones (Everton), Matt Targett (Southampton)
Tom Carroll (Tottenham Hotspur, on loan at Swansea City), Nathaniel Chalobah (Chelsea), Will Hughes (Derby County), Jake Forster-Caskey (Brighton & Hove Albion), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Alex Pritchard (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathan Redmond (Norwich City), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Benik Afobe (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Patrick Bamford (Chelsea, on loan at Middlesbrough), Saido Berahino (West Bromwich Albion), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Ings (Burnley), Cauley Woodrow (Fulham)