England fans boo as players take the knee
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Sven-Goran Eriksson says he was surprised that Gareth Southgate did not include Jesse Lingard in his 26-man squad for the European Championships. Lingard made the initial 33-man party but was cut from the squad on Tuesday when Southgate chose the final group to play this summer.
The attacking midfielder was dropped alongside Aaron Ramsdale, Ben Godfrey, Ben White, James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins, while Mason Greenwood was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Lingard is a Southgate favourite, having been a key part of the group which reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.
The 28-year-old played his way into contention for Euro 2020 by contributing nine goals and four assists in 16 Premier League games for West Ham while on loan from Manchester United in the second half of the 2020/21 season.
But despite his form he was still deemed surplus to requirements – something which caught Eriksson off guard.
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“It’s a surprise that Lingard’s not there because even to have him on the bench with his pace and one-on-one ability, he’s a clever footballer,” England’s manager between 2001 and 2006 told talkSPORT.
“He had a good season with West Ham. I didn’t see him play every game, but the games I saw, he has been very good.
“It’s always difficult. At the end, you can only pick the number [of players] that you’re allowed to pick. Someone will be disappointed, it’s always like that.”
Lingard could yet win a place in Southgate’s squad, who face Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic in Group D at Euro 2020.
With England weakened by injuries and the unavailability of the Manchester City and Chelsea players, Lingard started in Wednesday’s friendly against Austria.
He had a hand in Bukayo Saka’s winning goal and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury means he could earn a reprieve as a replacement.
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England have a wealth of possibilities in attack and Eriksson thinks those on display against Austria will struggle to displace the usual trio of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford.
“Kane for sure, Sterling and Rashford, but then you have Foden and so many good players,” he said when asked who should start up front.
“The big strength for England is that they have a goalscorer. Keep Harry Kane fit and he will be extremely important for England.
“And then you have a lot of pace in the team with good players in one-on-one situations.
“So if you can defend, you can defend deep, win the ball and counter attack.
“You will kill many opponents, I’m sure about that, because England have quick full-backs, quick wingers, so pace is very important.”
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