England squad: Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood omissions 'perfectly justified'

By Phil McNultyChief football writer
Harry Maguire (right) with England boss Gareth Southgate at training
Harry Maguire, who made his England debut in October 2017, has 26 caps

England manager Gareth Southgate will be hoping for a trouble-free fortnight after announcing his squad for the October internationals against Wales, Belgium and Denmark.

Last time out Southgate included Harry Maguire for the Uefa Nations League games in Iceland and Denmark, but was then forced to withdraw him within hours after Manchester United's captain was found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and repeated attempts of bribery, and given a suspended prison sentence on the Greek island of Syros.

And the rest of England's itinerary was overshadowed when he banished Manchester City's Phil Foden and Manchester United teenager Mason Greenwood from the squad, sending them home before the game in Copenhagen for breaking strict Covid-19 protocols at the team hotel in Iceland.

Southgate will want less turbulence for the Wembley triple-header, a friendly against Wales and Uefa Nations League games against Belgium and Denmark - but there are still plenty of talking points.

In form Calvert-Lewin among trio of new England call-ups

Maguire returns - but Foden and Greenwood out in the cold

Southgate still had to deal with the hangover from events surrounding that last squad and while it is good news for Maguire it is predictably bad news for Foden and Greenwood.

England's manager regards events surrounding Maguire after the incidents in Greece as closed while the player pursues an appeal and continues to plead his innocence but there was no way - quite rightly - that Foden and Greenwood could escape even further sanction for flouting the clear quarantine protocols in Reykjavik.

Maguire's inclusion will be a tonic for the 27-year-old, who has endured a mixed start to the new season, not simply with events in Greece but also on the field, where he was run ragged in Manchester United's 3-1 home loss to Crystal Palace, and delivered an uncertain display in the league win at Brighton, although he was on the scoresheet.

Maguire, however, is one of Southgate's most trusted players over recent years and it was no surprise he is in the squad to add defensive strength, an area where Wolverhampton Wanderers captain Conor Coady made an assured debut in Denmark.

Southgate was rightly furious with Foden and Greenwood for their stupidity and the betrayal of his trust in Iceland, so it was inevitable they would be missing from this squad in order to give them further time for reflection while missing out on the chance to add to their single England cap apiece so far.

Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden in training with England
Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden have played together for England Under-21s before

Foden and Greenwood will be back before too long, two highly gifted young talents who have the ability to play key roles for England not just at next summer's European Championship but for years to come.

For now, though, Southgate is perfectly justified in ramming home his message about what is expected in and around England's squad - and it may do the pair good to step away from the international spotlight so soon after making the sort of headlines they and their manager can do without.

Southgate insists after these internationals it will simply be about their form, although he added: "We have to send a message to all our players at every age level that that isn't how we do things with England.

"Then we have to rehabilitate these two young boys. These lads have suffered enough now."

In-form Calvert-Lewin leads new brigade

Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin was already heading for his first senior call-up before his second successive hat-trick at Goodison Park - the latest one coming in the EFL Cup against West Ham United - continued his blistering start to the season.

Southgate has also rewarded in-form Leicester City attacker Harvey Barnes and Arsenal's exciting young left-back Bukayo Saka with places in England's squad.

The Sheffield-born 23-year-old Calvert-Lewin has been transformed over the past year, first under the guidance of Everton assistant manager Duncan Ferguson, especially during his short spell in caretaker charge, then by the wise counsel of manager Carlo Ancelotti.

He made him the spearhead in attack while stressing the importance of staying in the danger areas and finishing clinically, preferably with one touch, citing the work of his former AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi as the perfect example.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin celebrates scoring for Everton in the Carabao Cup match against West Ham United
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored eight goals in five league and cup games for Everton in 2020-21

It has helped cure what was the glaring weakness in Calvert-Lewin's game, namely finishing, and he has now added this to the tireless work-rate and exemplary attitude that have always been his trademark.

Calvert-Lewin is blossoming into the complete striker and Southgate will hope he shows enough to demonstrate he can become high-class international cover, if not yet competition, for captain Harry Kane.

Barnes has been a standout in Leicester's perfect start to the Premier League season, not only as a creator but also as a goalscorer in the 4-2 win over Burnley.

Arsenal's 19-year-old Saka has excelled as a left-back with a real attacking threat and he will add competition in this position, where right-back Kieran Trippier played out of position recently. Ben Chilwell is fit and in the squad for the first time since his £50m move to Chelsea - but Saka has the quality to really become one to watch.

Time for Grealish?

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish finally got his long-awaited England debut with just 14 minutes of action in the goalless draw in Denmark and his inclusion tops an excellent few weeks with that first cap, a new five-year contract at Villa Park and two wins from two in the Premier League.

Jack Grealish (right) and England boss Gareth Southgate
Jack Grealish Grealish made his England debut when he appeared as a substitute against Denmark in the Nations League

The 25-year-old's fine opening to the season pushes his claims to make his first start in these upcoming fixtures, while Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips will be hoping to build on a solid start in Copenhagen.