Ivan Toney has been given his first England call-up as Gareth Southgate named a 28-man squad for the Three Lions’ Nations League games against Italy and Germany.
Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have been omitted, while Eric Dier returns to the squad for the first time since 2020.
Jarrod Bowen and Marc Guehi have retained their places after making their international debuts earlier this year.
Everton’s Jordan Pickford is injured due to a thigh problem he picked up in the Merseyside derby, while Rashford is still feeling the effects of an injury he picked up against Arsenal and will miss United’s Europa League game against Sheriff on Thursday.
Toney has earned himself a place after a strong start to the season, which has been a continuation of the form he showed last year.
The 26-year-old scored 17 Premier League goals since the start of last season and recently scored a hat-trick in Brentford’s 5-2 win over Leeds two weeks ago.
“With Ivan Toney, we have been tracking him for a long time,” said Southgate in quotes published on England’s website.
“I had a good chat with Thomas Frank about him last season. His form and his qualities – not only his goalscoring but his technical ability, build-up play and aerial prowess – gives us a different threat to some of the other players we could pick.”
England face Italy away on September 23, before hosting Germany at Wembley Stadium on September 26.
The two games will be the final chance Southgate has to assess his players before the Qatar World Cup begins on November 20, with England playing on the second day of the tournament.
“There were certain players we wanted to keep involved this time, but that said it doesn’t mean that this is the end for some of the others who aren’t involved,” said Southgate.
“Marcus Rashford, for example, has shown some encouraging signs recently. He is a player we know well so if he can perform at a high level in the next few weeks, he of course will be under consideration.
“Clearly, we have a number of players including Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips who are not playing a lot of minutes with their club. It is not ideal, but we feel they have been, and can be, important players for us. It is not a perfect situation but there is still a lot of football to be played before Qatar.
“With Eric Dier, he has been playing well for a period of time. We think it is a really close call across our centre-backs and he has deserved to be picked back in the group. We know what a good character he is. He fits in with the culture and has great international experience and leadership qualities.”
Southgate’s side are yet to win a Nations League game after two draws and two losses in June, including a 4-0 defeat to Hungary.
Should they finish bottom of their group, England will be relegated from League A to League B.
“This is a bigger than normal squad and part of the rationale is that we are very close to a World Cup and we feel, although our results were disappointing in the summer, we have picked on the basis of form and capability over a long period,” Southgate said.
“Reflecting on the last couple of months, clearly as an international manger you don’t have any games to quickly put the disappointment behind you.
“We have had a long period to reflect but now we are really looking forward to two high-quality matches that will be a great test for us and a crucial part of our preparation for the World Cup. It is only eight weeks until we will be naming our squad for Qatar so every minute counts.”
ENGLAND SQUAD FOR NATIONS LEAGUE MATCHES V ITALY AND GERMANY
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Nottingham Forest), Nick Pope (Newcastle), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Roma), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Ivan Toney (Brentford)