England manager Gareth Southgate has named his squad for the upcoming friendly against Australia and Euro 2024 qualifier at home to Italy.

England boss Gareth Southgate is happy to risk the wrath of Arsenal by picking Bukayo Saka for this month’s international double-header. The winger is being assessed at the club’s London Colney training ground after limping out of their Champions League clash with Lens on Tuesday after just 34 minutes having injured his hamstring performing a backheel.

He had already been a doubt for the game after failing to finish the game against Bournemouth three days before after picking up a knock. A separate injury kept him out of last week’s Carabao Cup game against Brentford.

It is over two whole seasons since Saka missed a Premier League game and given his injury situation this could have been an ideal opportunity to give him something of a rest with the finals in Germany next summer still a long haul of a season away. His selection means that Raheem Sterling is once again snubbed – the third get-together in a row he has not met up with the group.

The Chelsea winger asked to be excused from the squad at the start of the summer as he recovered from a niggling injury and Southgate responded by deciding to leave him out against Ukraine and Scotland despite a strong start to the season. Sterling came on as a substitute against Fulham on Monday having nursed a virus over the weekend, but is understood to have no fitness concerns.

With Eberechi Eze injured as a wide attacking player, Jarrod Bowen has instead been picked as a replacement after strong form for West Ham in their much stronger start to the season. Ollie Watkins replaces Callum Wilson in one of only three changes from last time for the friendly against Australia at Wembley on Friday, October 13 and then the Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy back under the giant arch four days later.

John Stones is the final one, on the verge of a return to the Manchester City side and deemed fit enough to take his place back in the heart of defence for England. Technically, he takes the place of Ben Chilwell – potentially out until December – as Southgate goes into the games with two part-time left-backs in Kieran Trippier and Levi Colwilll.

It also means those established squad members struggling for game time at the moment – or plying their trade elsewhere – still make it into the 26. Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips and now Aaron Ramsdale will be breathing a huge sigh of relief.

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