Gareth Southgate calls up uncapped quartet ahead of England friendlies

The inclusion of Nick Pope, James Tarkowski, Alfie Mawson and Lewis Cook is the big news following Southgate's squad announcement.

Gareth Southgate has once again caused debate with the announcement of his England squad ahead of the friendlies with the Netherlands and Italy, naming four debutants in Nick Pope, James Tarkowski, Alfie Mawson and Lewis Cook but the out of form goalkeeper Joe Hart retained his place in the squad. 

Awarded for their form

Players from clubs in the lower regions of the Premier League have been rewarded for their efforts across the season, with the likes of Tarkowski and Mawson impressing throughout the campaign for both Burnley and Swansea City respectively. 

It will be Cook's second call-up to the squad having been drafted in for the draw with Brazil last November, Jack Wilshere has also earned a return having not played since the defeat to Iceland in 2016 and returned to form for Arsenal. 

A big omission for Southgate will be the absence of star striker Harry Kane who will be out for at least a month with an ankle injury following the win over Bournemouth and has been replaced in attack by Arsenal's Danny Welbeck. 

The Three Lions will travel to Amsterdam to take on the Netherlands on March 23 before taking on Italy at Wembley Stadium on March 27. 

 

A battle for the gloves 

The squad has also hasn't been without its staples but also hasn't come without some controversy, with Hart being the latest inclusion that has caused fans and pundits to go toe-to-toe in the comment sections. 

Hart has quite the rough couples of seasons since being thrown into exile by Pep Guardiola having had loan moves to Torino and now West Ham United, very much like The Hammers Hart has failed to impress which has seen dropped for Adrián until recently. 

Pope has certainly earnt his call-up as one of Southgate's four keepers having stepped up in the absence of Tom Heaton, Southgate did state that though the no 1 jersey is "up for grabs" he still considers Hart as a "important" member of the squad. 

"Clearly the No 1 jersey is up for grabs," said Southgate. "From our point of view he [Hart] he has been our No 1 through qualifying."

"He is an important member of the squad so we wanted to keep him involved," the coach proclaimed. "We don't know how the next eight to ten weeks will pan out for all of our goalkeepers." 

"But there is good competition for places," Southgate concluded. "And I think they're all looking forward to that."

England squad to face the Netherlands and Italy

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope

Defenders: Ryan Bertrand, Danny Rose, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Joe Gomez, James Tarkowski, Alfie Mawson, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier

Midfielders: Ashley Young, Eric Dier, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore, Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Forwards: Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy