Jesse Lingard is set to start for England against Austria on Wednesday night – despite being left out of their European Championship squad.
The Manchester United forward, who starred on loan at West Ham in the second half of the season, was among the players cut from Gareth Southgate’s provisional 33-man party on Tuesday.
But Southgate has revealed Lingard wanted to remain part of the group this week along with James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins, who were also overlooked for selection in the final 26-man squad.
Uncapped trio Aaron Ramsdale, Ben Godfrey and Ben White were, as expected, also cut but they too will stay with the squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Austria and Sunday’s clash with Romania.
Lingard is likely to start the first friendly, with some players needing a rest following their involvement in the European finals last week.
Southgate said: “For me personally, it was very difficult to speak to Jesse, who has given so much to England, has performed so well for England over a long period of time, James Ward-Prowse who has been captain of the Under-21s and then Ollie Watkins, who had a tremendous season with Aston Villa.
“Those three, I gave them the option of going home if they wanted to but they were all adamant they would want to stay and be a part of the group.
“They know that they will be involved in these two matches. I think Jesse will probably start tomorrow.
“Their commitment has been exemplary and their professionalism has been brilliant and meant that yesterday afternoon when I had the conversations with those players, although they were disappointed they knew where they stood and it has meant the atmosphere around the camp has stayed positive and very relaxed.”
England have injury doubts heading into the tournament, with Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson not yet fully fit.
Southgate is allowed to make changes to his squad after June 1 if the team doctor and a doctor from the UEFA Medical Committee both confirm that the injury or illness is severe enough to prevent an existing squad player’s participation in the tournament.
So there is still some hope for Lingard, Ward-Prowse and Watkins that they could yet play a part at the Euros.
Southgate added: “I think every squad is difficult because we have a lot of talented players in this country.
“The most difficult thing is to not be able to take players who’ve been with us in previous matches and who are such good professionals.
“So, I know what a disappointment that is for them at the moment not to be going to a major championship.
“But we still have two friendlies to get to, and there’s been plenty of examples over the years where there have been injuries in those friendlies that have ruled people out.
“So there’s still time for those guys even though they’re not in at this moment in time.”
He added: “I’m always mindful with what happened with Trevor Sinclair in Japan (at the 2002 World Cup) that things can change very suddenly.
“So, of course it is difficult. It’s always nicer to say to people they are in a squad for the first time or give them their first cap. Much more difficult because I have been a player, I know how difficult it is to receive that news.”
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