England fans are split after Gareth Southgate announced his 26-man squad for the World Cup in Qatar.
But Southgate was quick to defend the selection of Manchester City pair Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips, despite both having injury concerns, The Sun reports.
On the gamble of bringing Walker and Phillips, Southgate said: “Not that’s not the case (they can’t play opening game).
“Kalvin played last night, so with him he’s free of injury. We are aware he won’t be able to play 90 minutes so we will build his fitness.
“We don’t really have a defensive midfielder outside of (Declan) Rice. We have Hendo (Jordan Henderson) who can play there but that’s not really his number one position so we don’t have a lot of cover in the country for that position.
“Kalvin is a super player and we feel that’s a risk worth taking and we think he can add to the group.
“Kyle’s a little different but he will be available again by the end of the group stage.
“We had to make a difficult call with Reece (James) but with him if everything went perfectly he wasn’t going to be available until the latter stages of the tournament and there were too many unknowns and we can’t take a player who isn’t available in the group.”
Some fans feel the Three Lions boss has got it bang on, picking the players that can secure glory this winter.
But others have been left angrily scratching their heads.
One wrote: “LOVE that squad! Southgate has clearly listened. It’s coming home.”
Although another Twitter user punched into his keyboard: “See Southgate picked his favourites again.”
While a third joked: “Burnley of international football. Can’t wait to play 5ATB ((five defenders) vs Iran and hope for a 1-0 from a corner.”
Among the 52-year-old’s big decisions was the call to select James Maddison three years after the Leicester star earned his one and only cap to date.
Fans have generally been pleased with the call, with one writing: “Well deserved. Playing some great football.”
A second added: “Southgate at least has half a clue then! Well deserved based on his form.”
On his decision to pick Maddison, Southgate said: “He’s playing very well. He’s earned the right. We think he can give us something slightly different to the other attacking players that we’ve got.”
Defenders Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi have been omitted from the squad, to the irritation of many.
Responding to their snubs, one fan wrote: “Coady over Guehi Tomori Gomez Mings is a crime.”
A second tweeted: “Sorry but how the f*** has Southgate NOT picked Tomori nor Guehi for the @England World Cup squad????
Another frustratedly asked: “What message does this send to players who want to test themselves abroad?
“Tomori has arguably been the top performing English CB over the past 12 months but misses out because Southgate has picked players based off of previous squads.”
Other fans took issue with Kalvin Phillips’ selection, with the midfielder having played just 53 minutes of action this season due to a shoulder injury.
One wrote: “How the hell has Phillips got in this squad???? Absolute embarrassment and so disrespectful to other players who actually play and fit.”
A second added: “Don’t think he’s played a single minute has he? Joke of decision.”
Conor Gallagher has been included – having earned four England caps to date despite missing out on September’s squad.
Fans seem to be split on the Chelsea midfielder, with one writing: “Well deserved Conor.”While another harshly disagreed: “Least talented. This proves that Southgate prefers headless players who run a lot.”
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale
Defence: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ben White
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice
Forwards: Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, James Maddison, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Callum Wilson
England face Iran, United States and Wales in their group in Qatar.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission
Story Credit: news.com.au