Mason Greenwood is the surprise omission from the England squad that Gareth Southgate has named to face the Republic of Ireland in a friendly and Belgium and Iceland in the Nations League.
With Danny Ings unavailable because of a knee injury, Southgate was expected to recall Greenwood, whom he was forced to send home from the September fixture in Iceland. Greenwood and another England debutant, Phil Foden, had broken Covid-19 regulations by inviting two women into the team hotel.
Southgate excluded them from the October get-together. But while Foden is now back, having started the season well for Manchester City, Greenwood remains out. The Manchester United striker has scored two goals in eight appearances for his club.
Southgate has still not been able to find room in an enlarged 29-man squad for Ross Barkley or James Maddison and he has not called up Harvey Barnes, having done so the last time. Kalvin Phillips misses out because of a shoulder injury.
Southgate, discussing Greenwood and Foden, said: “They don’t come as a pair, they are individual players with their own strengths and individual talents. We are looking at the balance of the squad positionally firstly.
“Phil has had a lot of football with his club most recently and Mason has had less game time with United.
“I have had a good chat with Ole [Gunnar Solskjær, Manchester United’s manager] about his development and I feel it is better for him to stay at the club at the moment, to develop over the next few months.
“But they are both available, there was no carryover from September, that is done. Both are available for selection and are going to be very good players.”