England squad: Lingard returns as Watkins earns first call-up


est Ham loanee Jesse Lingard has returned to the England squad for this month’s World Cup qualifying triple-header, reflecting his remarkable turnaround in east London, while Ollie Watkins earns a first ever call-up.

Lingard, 28, was on Thursday named in Gareth Southgate‘s squad for the first time since winning his 24th cap against Switzerland during the Nations League finals in June 2019.

The attacking midfielder, who was part of the 2018 World Cup squad, has been superb since joining David Moyes’s side on loan from Manchester United in January, scoring four goals and adding one assist in six League appearances.

He was joined in the squad for the qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland by Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins and West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.

Watkins has impressed with 12 goals to his name, while Johnstone is also handed a maiden call-up at the expense of No1 Jordan Pickford, who missed out due to an abdominal injury.

England have also been able to call up Borussia Dortmund youngster Jude Bellingham, with Southgate desperate to include the 17-year-old but the German club reluctant to release him due to coronavirus restrictions. There was still hope that Bellingham would be granted an exemption to travel, although as of the announcement rules requiring him to quarantine for 14 days on his return to Germany remain in place.

The same situation applies to Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, who would miss Poland’s trip to Wembley on March 31, while Bellingham’s Dortmund team-mate Jadon Sancho is among a number of players to miss out through injury. Also sidelined are Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Harvey Barnes, Danny Ings, James Maddison, Jack Grealish, Tammy Abraham and Callum Wilson.

Leeds striker Patrick Bamford also missed out, despite being touted for a maiden call-up. The 27-year-old, who has scored 13 League goals for his club, suffered a dead leg against Chelsea.

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka also made the cut despite being forced off with a tight hamstring against Tottenham, and is classified as a forward for the first time, while Southgate also recalled John Stones and Luke Shaw, who have been in fine fettle for Manchester City and Manchester United respectively.

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