Gareth Southgate has reminded José Mourinho that concern over the freshness of Harry Kane works both ways by telling the Tottenham manager to ensure England’s captain is in perfect condition for the European Championship finals.
On Wednesday Mourinho urged Southgate not to over-play Kane in England’s upcoming triple bill of fixtures, for which there have been first call-ups for Bukayo Saka, Harvey Barnes and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Southgate responded on Thursday by emphasising that he intends to be responsible over player welfare and added: “All José needs to do is make sure that in April and May … he’s got to look after Harry Kane for us because there will be 55 million people relying on that so that obviously works both ways.”
Southgate, who has dropped Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden, also said: “José was great, wasn’t he? He was on good form. I heard him. He won’t phone but he’s going to stand at the top of Tottenham’s stadium and tell us, so that was good. I was a bit disappointed I’m not one of his friends. I know Steve [Holland, Southgate’s assistant] is but in fairness Steve helped him to a league title [at Chelsea]. So that’s understandable.”
England’s manager said he had long had a “good relationship” with Mourinho. “I’ve got to say José has never, ever put me under pressure not to pick a player. That is 100% the case. He has worked at big clubs throughout his life and he has always accepted that international football is part of that situation, where his players are going to go. He would expect us to look after those players as we should do.”
Southgate has named a 30-strong party for the friendly against Wales next Thursday and the Nations League tie against Belgium and Denmark that follow, knowing that he will have to rotate his personnel.
He stopped short of promising no one would play in all three games but said: “Our aim is to manage the squad. We’ve got to be responsible. We are conscious of the welfare of the players. The season as whole is a huge challenge for clubs and national teams so we’ve all got to work together on that. It doesn’t help anybody if we’re not joined up on our thinking.
“I think that we are certainly not looking to start players in three games. I can’t guarantee that no player will play no minute of all three games. You might end up having to put somebody on for five minutes and then people will be saying: ‘Well, you didn’t do what you said.’”
The call-ups for Saka, Barnes and Calvert-Lewin reward their eye-catching early season form. As expected, Southgate has recalled Harry Maguire after standing him down from the previous squad following the defender’s criminal trial in Greece and he has not selected Foden and Greenwood. The latter pair were sent home from Iceland in September after inviting women into the team hotel – in breach of squad and Covid-19 regulations.
Southgate has recalled Ben Chilwell, Harry Winks, Jordan Henderson and Marcus Rashford after they missed the previous get-together because of injury but there are no places for the fit-again Luke Shaw and James Maddison. Kyle Walker is in, having been sweating over his inclusion after his red card in the 1-0 win in Iceland.
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Kieran Trippier (Atlético Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham United), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur)
Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Harvey Barnes (Leicester City), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Danny Ings (Southampton), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Calvert-Lewin said: “I just phoned my mum and my dad, and my mum burst into tears. It’s something we’ve spoken about since I was a young boy.”
Southgate said Foden and Greenwood would be back in contention for his next squad. “We have to send a message to all our players in our teams at every age level that that sort of thing isn’t how we do things with England. Then we’ve got to rehabilitate these two boys. Young people will make mistakes. These lads have suffered enough now.
“I think they need this period of reflection but that gives them the opportunity to get back on their feet with their clubs, enjoy their football again.”