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Sunday 22 September 2019

Wilshere left out in the cold despite Southgate's threadbare squad

Burnley midfielder Jack Cork has been called up to the England squad for the friendlies against Germany and Brazil. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA
Burnley midfielder Jack Cork has been called up to the England squad for the friendlies against Germany and Brazil. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Jason Burt

Gareth Southgate's plans for England have been thrown into disarray with six players now having withdrawn for his squad ahead of the vital World Cup warm-up matches against Germany and Brazil.

Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph have joined Harry Kane, Harry Winks and Dele Alli in pulling out of the original 25-man selection, leaving a threadbare and inexperienced squad including no fewer than five uncapped players.

The latest of those is Burnley's Jack Cork, who Southgate has opted to select rather than recalling Jack Wilshere - who he overlooked last week - or Watford's Tom Cleverley, who had been put on stand-by. There was a seven-hour gap between England confirming three more withdrawals and Cork being announced.

Cork, 28, has impressed since his £8m move to Burnley and played for Southgate when he was the England U-21 manager.

Choosing Cork ahead of Wilshere will re-open the debate over the Arsenal midfielder. Only last week Southgate said he could not consider the 25-year-old because, "I don't know how you get in an England squad without getting in the Arsenal team".

He has stuck to that principle despite the spate of withdrawals.

Southgate intends to switch England to a 3-4-3 or 5-3-2 formation, which he wants to use at the World Cup, and believed the games against the top-two ranking nations in world football represented ideal preparation.

The loss of six players is a further blow given Southgate decided last week to axe under-performing players, including regulars such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Daniel Sturridge, Chris Smalling and Jermain Defoe.

Southgate has already added Jake Livermore, having originally left out the West Bromwich Albion midfielder, and Michael Keane, who is fit again after recovering from a leg infection.

The only good news he received yesterday was that Gary Cahill was fit enough to join up with the squad at St George's Park.

Southgate's options in midfield appear particularly inexperienced with Cork joining Livermore, 21-year-old Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Eric Dier, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young. Young is actually regarded as a wing-back while Lingard is more of a forward player. It means Southgate has only Dier who would be considered a first-choice.

Further forward, Southgate has just three strikers in Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford and newcomer Tammy Abraham, the 20-year-old on loan from Chelsea to Swansea City.

Certain to be in that 23-man squad is Danny Rose, who Southgate has recalled after he recovered from nine months out with a serious knee injury, and the Spurs full-back has spoken about seeing a psychologist as he coped with the trauma of being inactive.

" I have started seeing a psychologist to try and help me think positively. I have started reading books, also. This injury has been one of the most difficult periods of my life," the 27-year-old revealed. "It just made me realise that football can be taken away from you at any given point." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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