Gareth Southgate’s England take on Ukraine and Scotland in September (Photo: Getty)
England take on Ukraine in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Saturday before playing Scotland in a friendly to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first ever international match on Tuesday.
Unsurprisingly, Gareth Southgate’s latest squad selection has divided opinion, notably due to the inclusion of Maguire and Phillips who have struggled for form and game time at their clubs over the past year.
Moreover, the Manchester United and Manchester City stars were picked ahead of the likes of Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling and West Ham duo James Ward-Prowse and Jarrod Bowen who had started this season terrifically.
Phillips has not been a regular starter for his country for some time now and is mainly Declan Rice’s understudy now, but Maguire continues to make the first XI despite their being a number of promising, talented centre-backs to pick from.
And former England international Sutton believes the time has come for them to get a chance ahead of the 30-year-old Maguire who has played just 23 minutes so far this campaign.
‘The centre half area is really interesting, but when you have the likes of [Fikayo] Tomori, [Marc] Guehi, Lewis Dunk, [Levi] Colwill… I understand that he’s [Maguire] got to prove himself more,’ Sutton told the Daily Mail.
Harry Maguire has performed well for England despite his troubles at Man Utd (Photo: Getty)
‘I do think that they have stronger cases to start for England than Harry Maguire does at this moment in time. You can’t be a training ground player and expect to start for your country, albeit Harry Maguire has never really let England down too badly.
‘I can understand the Maguire thing to a greater extent in terms of Gareth picking him than I can for Kalvin Phillips. But if you’re James Ward-Prowse, he may as well retire now.’
The comment about retiring is a reference to Rio Ferdinand’s reaction to Phillips’ inclusion over Ward-Prowse, where he suggested that the latter should retire from international duty after being continually overlooked and ‘disrespected’ by Southgate.
Kalvin Phillips has been called up despite barely kicking a ball so far this season (Photo: Getty)
The Irons star has scored one and assisted three in three games since moving from Southampton last month, while Phillips has played just six minutes so far in 2023/24.
‘The message which it sends to players like James Ward-Prowse, players who have started the season very, very well… I mean, he must think he’s never, ever going to get an opportunity to play for England again,’ Sutton added.
‘I just, I think Gareth has got this one wrong. I understand the loyalty factor, but how can Gareth essentially judge these players?
‘They aren’t playing Premier League football, especially Phillips. Phillips more so than Maguire. So, was he judging him on training? When they go away with England?
‘I think from Phillips’ point of view, he has to get himself out of Manchester City – unless there’s a dramatic turnaround in the way Pep Guardiola thinks about him.
‘I know that there are players, historically, at City who have taken a season to get up and running under Pep, but it just doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen for Phillips at Manchester City. And that has to eventually have a knock-on effect to what happens with England.’
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