Gareth Southgate has suggested Emile Smith Rowe isn’t just in the England squad to make up the numbers, and they’re planning to use him.
Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe received a late call-up to the senior England squad for the November break, following the withdrawals of a few of the players initially set for involvement this month.
Given he wasn’t part of that initial squad announcement, there was an expectation that Smith Rowe wouldn’t play a key role over the current break. But Gareth Southgate insists they’ve called him up with the intention of involving him.
“We have brought him here with a view to being involved in the two matches,” Southgate said. “He has settled really well. Knows a couple of club mates and Phil from Under-17s as well. His quality has been apparent in training. He is ready.”
After leaving Smith Rowe out in the first place, Southgate had justified the decision by suggestion they wanted to get the timing right with his call-up.
The England boss did go on to add that “we can put them (Smith Rowe, Gallagher, or Guehi) in and they would be absolutely fine”, and it was more a case of other players being “a little bit ahead at the moment”.
So there’s never been any suggestion from Southgate that Smith Rowe wasn’t ready for a chance. Now that he’s seen him in training, perhaps that’s added to the Arsenal youngster’s chances of involvement this week.
England are top of their World Cup qualification group by three points going into the final two games against Albania and San Marino.
If they beat Albania on Friday, the San Marino game almost becomes a formality, so perhaps that might be an opportunity for a debut.