Gareth Southgate explains why Chelsea star Cole Palmer did not feature for England

Ivan Toney of England & Brentford, Cole Palmer of England & Chelsea, Rico Lewis of England & Manchester City during the England Men Training Session at Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre on March 25, 2024 in Enfield, England. 

Gareth Southgate says Cole Palmer is still in with a good chance of making England’s Euro 2024 squad and only missed out on minutes this week due to a minor injury.

The Chelsea star, who has been the west London club’s standout player this season, was not included in the matchday squad against Brazil on Saturday but Southgate had hoped he would be available against Belgium.

Although Palmer was on the bench on Tuesday evening, he did not get onto the pitch with Southgate instead choosing to bring on Anthony Gordon, Ollie Watkins and James Maddison as the Three Lions chased a late equaliser.

Southgate has now revealed that Palmer was not able to train consistently in the build-up to the match, hence not playing, but he remains in contention to go to the Euros – though there is huge competition for attacking spots in the squad.

‘I said when I named the squad there is competition for places in those wide areas,’ explained Southgate.

‘A bit of a shame that Cole Palmer missed so much training that we weren’t able to put him into the game [against Belgium] at the stage it was having missed most of the week.

‘We weren’t 100 per cent certain what we would get whereas with Gordon we knew and Maddison we knew. I wouldn’t rule Cole out of that equation.’

Jack Grealish missed the international break entirely but Southgate insists he is still part of England’s thinking, continuing: ‘Jack’s definitely not out of the picture.

‘I spoke to him before I named the squad. But as I said when I named the squad, Gordon and [Jarrod] Bowen are pushing those guys.

‘I think Anthony Gordon has been excellent for his club. And obviously Marcus Rashford got on in the first game. But I wanted to see Gordon again. I thought James Maddison coming on would have an impact and Bowen has also had a really good camp. So there’s competition for places.‌’

Southgate also suggested England might be one of several nations who push for an expanded squad size – from 23 players to 26 – to cover for any potential injuries following another demanding club season.

‘There is one more Uefa meeting where there’s been a little bit of talk amongst some of the coaches about possibly increasing that,’ he said.

‘We’ve got to make the best decisions [regarding selection] with what we know and some of those currently are going to be medical decisions. We’ve been able to get those right in the previous [two] tournaments. We’ve been able to give people time [to recover, having named them in the squad]. But with 23 that’s definitely more difficult.’

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