Gareth Southgate has announced his squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers in which England will square off with Czech Republic and then Montenegro – there are some notable omissions, including Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse.
Southgate has explained his reasoning behind that decision and it will surely baffle not just Saints fans, but anyone invested in the national squad too.
Well, speaking about his crop of players, the former Middlesbrough manager said the following of Ward-Prowse’s exclusion:
Could @Prowsey16 have been in the squad?
Gareth: “We love Prowsey – this recent spell is his best since we capped him and he’s a world-class set-piece taker, but he’s only recently got back in the team at @SouthamptonFC.”https://t.co/mpPkHvCTji
— England (@England) March 13, 2019
Interesting stuff. It should surely do little to soothe the St Mary’s faithful or the player himself, who, as Soughtgate says, has been in sensational form of late.
The England boss has repeatedly stated his preference to pick players based on form rather than reputation but his latest selection is a huge contradiction to that. Ward-Prowse is the epitome of ‘form’ at the moment having scored six goals in his last nine games, including free-kicks against Manchester United and Spurs.
Meanwhile, Fabian Delph and Ruben Loftus-Cheek – two of the midfielders who have have kept the 24-year-old out of the Three Lions setup this time around – have accumulated just 1,155 minutes of Premier League football between them this term at Manchester City and Chelsea respectively, with Delph featuring for just 10 minutes in the top flight in 2019.
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Previous managers have shown loyalties to the top six clubs but, considering Southgate’s promise not to do so, fans of both England and Southampton were surely expecting the Saints number 16 to be a shoe-in for the squad, particularly with the likes of Harry Winks and Jesse Lingard out.
Southgate has dug himself a sizeable hole with his comments and should Ward-Prowse keep up this form for the remainder of the season and then not be included in the next squad, the England boss will have confirmed he is no less biased towards the big clubs than his predecessors.