Raheem Sterling left out of England squad but Eberechi Eze gets first call-up | England

Raheem Sterling has been left out of the England squad for next month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia after holding talks about his physical condition with Gareth Southgate.

Sterling has struggled on and off the pitch since joining Chelsea last summer and the decision has been taken for him to use the international break as a chance to rest before pre-season. Southgate held an honest conversation with the winger and a mutual decision was taken for the 28-year-old to miss the games against Malta and North Macedonia.

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There is a first call-up for Crystal Palace’s Eberechi Eze as reward for a fine end to the season. Eze, who is also eligible to play for Nigeria, has sparkled in midfield for Palace and has long been on Southgate’s radar. Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has returned, with Chelsea’s Reece James injured, but there is no place for Arsenal’s Ben White.

The Newcastle striker Callum Wilson has replaced Brentford’s Ivan Toney, who is serving an eight-month ban for a breach of FA betting rules. And the Palace goalkeeper, Sam Johnstone, comes in for Newcastle’s Nick Pope.

For Sterling, representing England has always been a major priority and he remains part of Southgate’s long-term plans. The Chelsea winger is one of England’s senior players and he has an excellent record at international level. However Sterling, who missed England’s qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine with a minor injury problem, has endured a disappointing campaign since leaving Manchester City for £47.5m last summer.

Quick Guide

England squad for Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia


Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Sam Johnstone. Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Lewis Dunk, Marc Guehi, Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker. Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Eberechi Eze, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice. Forwards: Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Callum Wilson.

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His form for Chelsea has been inconsistent and he has had a series of niggling injury issues. He also had to deal with the emotion of flying home from England’s World Cup camp in Qatar following a burglary at his Surrey home. Sterling was left concerned about his family and the incident, coupled with the travel to and from Qatar, took a heavy toll on him physically and mentally.

Equally Sterling’s absence will raise questions over his place in the pecking order with England. He lost his place in the starting XI during the World Cup and Southgate has plenty of attacking options.

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