Gareth Southgate made ‘right call’ by snubbing Man Utd duo

Press conference with England forward Jack Grealish ahead of their Nations League matches against Italy and a Germany

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Gareth Southgate was right to leave Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho out of the England squad for this month’s Nations League fixtures, according to former Three Lions defender Glen Johnson. Both players have impressed for the Red Devils since the start of the new campaign but were overlooked by Southgate to face Italy and Germany in England’s last two matches before the World Cup begins in November.

The absence of Rashford and Sancho in the squad raised plenty of questions over whether they will make the final cut in Qatar, where England will be hoping to challenge for the iconic trophy after reaching the final of Euro 2020 last summer. Johnson believes that although it was the right decision to avoid bringing the United duo back into the fold this month, the door remains wide open to get themselves in contention for the World Cup squad over the coming weeks.

“I think they have both got a bit to do,” Johnson exclusively told Express Sport. “I’m a big fan of Rashford, I think when he’s on form he’s hard to stop but he hasn’t been himself for quite a while now.

“It’s probably the right call to leave him out at the moment but I don’t think the door on the plane is closed. Southgate will be looking through a lot of other options and I think the door’s open for everybody.

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“If they have a few good months they’ll be back on the plane. I don’t really mind who goes, to be honest, you just want the best players available who are fit and in form.”

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how England will fare at this year’s World Cup, which they will be desperate to perform well in after reaching the semi-finals at the last attempt back in 2018. Johnson went on to insist that England will be up there with the favourites to claim the grand prize but urged Southgate and his players to learn from their past mistakes by staying calm in the high-pressure situations that may arise in Qatar.

“Of course people will be expecting them [England] to go quite deep into the tournament as they’ve done well in the last couple,” added Johnson.

“Maybe just being able to stay calm in those moments when they need to make a big decision. I think [Southgate] has done well so far, he’s got the guys enjoying their football, but how far they can go we don’t know, they’ll probably be among the favourites for the tournament.”

Johnson was speaking to Express Sport while attending an event at Anfield, co-hosted by Liverpool and SC Johnson, with the aim of helping local children to improve their recycling and sustainability knowledge.

“We’ve got 200 kids over who we’re teaching about renewable energy and recycling and learning certain ways to save the planet going forward,” he explained. “There’s certain activities they’ve been doing with us today where they can take things home and educate their parents and try and help everybody to have a better future.”

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