Gareth Southgate admitted that Emile Smith Rowe’s inclusion in his current England squad was a “little bit early,” but argued that the midfielder was on a “very good path” following a great start to the season with Arsenal.
Smith Rowe has four England Under-21 caps and was widely expected to get his first senior call-up for the Three Lions’ forthcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Albania and San Marino.
Since breaking into Arsenal’s first squad in 2018, the 21-year-old has progressed steadily and was recently granted the club’s famous No.10 shirt after signing a new long-term contract at the Emirates.
Smith Rowe has led from the front for Arsenal during a renaissance spell, scoring three goals and providing two assists in the Premier League, but the teenager was left out of Southgate’s 25-man team announced this afternoon.
Mason Greenwood, Jadon Sancho, and Jesse Lingard of Manchester United were among the noteworthy absentees.
‘Emile, Conor Gallagher, and Marc Guehi, in particular, are all playing extremely well with their clubs, but we’ve got depth,’ Southgate said when asked why he left out an in-form Smith Rowe.
‘To get those in, we have to leave some of these on the sheet out, and I don’t think it’s a terrible thing that we’re starting to build a great Under-21 squad because depth is important.’
‘We fast track lots of young players very rapidly, and the most of them are still in this team now, and a lot of them played a significant role at the Euros,’ England’s head coach continued.
‘But we’ve also had some come up, and then putting them back with the Under-21s is a lot more complex, so we want to get the time right.’
‘I believe the lads I just described are on a really good road, we like them, we’ll get a nice chance to watch them with the Under-21s as well as with their club, but we think it’s a little early for some of those players to come in at the moment.’
‘We can put them in, and they’ll be OK,’ says the narrator. However, we believe the athletes we’ve chosen are only a smidgeon ahead of the competition right now.’
Confirming your #ThreeLions squad for November! ð
Southgate emphasized that there is a plethora of talented new talent in his England ranks, offering stiff competition for the more well-known names.
‘It’s always difficult because there’s so much competition for spots, and we had a few guys absent last time, so you have to bring others in, which means you have to make more decisions,’ he continued.
‘Also, some young players who didn’t quite make the team are doing well, so we’ve retained a decent level of continuity with the group that was with us in the summer, and they performed so well.’
‘We’re only five international games away from that, and there are players who are really pushing that group.’
On November 12, England will welcome Albania at Wembley before concluding their qualifying campaign three days later against Group I minnows San Marino.
Southgate’s side just needs four points to secure a spot in Qatar 2022.