Gareth Southgate has reminded José Mourinho that concern over the freshness of Harry Kane works both ways by telling the Tottenham manager to ensure England’s captain is in perfect condition for the European Championship finals.
Mourinho had on Wednesday urged Southgate not to play Kane in each of England’s matches during the international break – against Wales, Belgium and Denmark – citing concerns over the striker’s workload, although he said he would not call his counterpart to make the request.
Southgate named a 30-man squad on Thursday, giving first call-ups to Bukayo Saka, Harvey Barnes and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, recalling Harry Maguire and omitting Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood in what he said was a message relating to discipline. Foden and Greenwood were sent home from the September internationals after inviting two women to the team hotel in Iceland, breaking Covid-19 protocols and squad rules.
Southgate also sought to send a message to Mourinho, albeit one packaged in a playful way, as he marked his turf on the club-v-country debate that stands to be a theme of the season.
“José was great, wasn’t he?” Southgate said. “He was on good form. I heard him. He won’t phone but he’s going to stand at the top of Tottenham’s stadium and tell us, so that was good. We are certainly not looking to start players in three games. We’ve got to be responsible.
“The season as a whole is a huge challenge for clubs and national teams so we’ve all got to work together. And all José needs to do is make sure that in April and May … he’s got to look after Harry Kane for us because there will be 55 million people relying on that so that obviously works both ways.”
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Kieran Trippier (Atlético Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham United), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur)
Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Harvey Barnes (Leicester City), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Danny Ings (Southampton), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Mourinho had referenced his friendship with Southgate’s assistant, Steve Holland, with whom he worked at Chelsea, leading Southgate to joke that he was disappointed not to be one of the Portuguese’s friends. Typically, Mourinho had a comeback. It involved the Wales friendly and contained a slip of the tongue when he appeared to refer to Southgate as “Gary.”
Speaking after Spurs’s 7-2 Europa League play-off win over Maccabi Haifa, Mourinho said: “What I can promise to my friend Steve Holland and for Gary not to be jealous, for my friend Gary, I can promise that until the end of the season I don’t play Harry Kane one minute of any friendly match.”
Southgate said he had told Foden and Greenwood before they were sent home from Iceland that he would not select them for the October get-together. He has not spoken to either since. They will not be picked for the under-21s during this window and their inclusion for the November break will depend on their club form.
“They know what they did wasn’t acceptable,” Southgate said. “We needed that message to go out to all players who are involved with England at every age group.
In the last few years we’ve reconnected really well with the public and we’ve got to make sure we protect that and there are standards of working as a team and your culture that are really important to protect.”
Southgate said he planned to remind his players after they report on Monday about what is required on England duty. “You always have to work at culture, it never is embedded for ever,” the manager said. “We will discuss what it means to wear the shirt and some reminders on how we work but that’s not a case of reading the riot act. That’s a case of asking the players what sort of team they want to be involved in.
“We addressed some of that last time round but when something like what has happened has happened we have to revisit that. In the end a lot of the discipline or culture comes from the decisions you make. Decisions send a message.”
Ben Chilwell, Jordan Henderson, Harry Winks and Marcus Rashford are back after withdrawing injured from the last squad but there are no places for the fit-again Luke Shaw, James Maddison or Ross Barkley.
Southgate said in the case of Maddison and Barkley, who are feeling their way back to peak fitness, there were others in better physical shape in their positions.
Southgate also revealed he was open to the return of Jamie Vardy, the Leicester striker who is in international retirement.
The 33-year-old won the Premier League’s Golden Boot last season and is joint-top of the scoring chart with Calvert-Lewin on five goals this time out.
“We know Jamie is still around and we still communicate a lot,” Southgate said. “I’m not in any way ruling him out if it’s the right thing at the right time to bring him back into the fold.”