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Borussia Dortmund

Gareth Southgate admits he didn’t think he’d ever call up Jesse Lingard for England again

Jesse Lingard led the return of England’s forgotten trio.

England boss Gareth Southgate brought Lingard, Luke Shaw and John Stones in from the cold for the World Cup qualifiers with San Marino, Poland and Albania later this month.

It is a remarkable comeback for Manchester United’s out-of-favour midfielder Lingard, 28, who has not featured for England since the Nations League in 2019 but is enjoying a renaissance on loan at West Ham.

United left back Shaw, 25, has also made a shock return after three years in the international wilderness but is back to form and Southgate praised his new maturity after becoming a father.

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Manchester City defender Stones, 26, has also not played for England since 2019 but – like Lingard – was a huge part of Southgate’s squad for the last World Cup and his renaissance at the Etihad has been the best comeback story of the season.

Jesse Lingard has fought his way back into the England setup

Southgate admitted they had dropped off the radar – but said their comebacks should offer hope to Trent Alexander-Arnold as he said Stones and Lingard were not even in this thinking just a few months ago.

Southgate said: “There is a small opportunity in terms of our matches but there is a quarter of a season at club level. That includes some big Champions League games as well.

“That door is definitely open – I realistically did not think I would be sitting here to day picking a squad with John Stones and Jesse Lingard in it. Trent is closer to this squad than they were to our autumn squads four months ago.

“Luke has obviously suffered with a brutal injury and there is no question he has matured a lot in the last few years especially.

“He is a father now – I think that has an influence on everybody. And in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now he has a coach who believes in him a great deal and his performances have been excellent.”

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England interim manager Gareth Southgate and England's Jesse Lingard
Lingard hasn’t played for England since 2016

Southgate also named Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, 17, in his 26 man squad despite it being unlikely he will be able to report up because he would be subject to a quarantine on his return to Germany after international duty.

Germany’s rules are done on a local level and reviewed regularly but it is a measure of Southgate’s respect for Bellingham that he has picked him anyway and the ex-Birmingham youngster looks certain to be included in the squad for the Euros after impressing on the Champions League stage.

Southgate added: “We are so impressed with his personality, his mentality and the way he has adapted to a new country, a new culture. New style of football. He has done it with great maturity.

“We are not going to put him or the club under undue pressure. We have a great relationship with Dortmund. They have been fabulous for his development.

“The games with Sevilla in particular were stand-out in a Champions League knockout tie and at that age to play with such maturity and to have such an impact and to be bold enough to play in the manner he did is a hugely exciting talent.”

There were also first senior call-ups for Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins and West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone with first choice keeper Jordan Pickford injured and Leeds striker Patrick Bamford missing out.

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