Harry Kane sits fifth in England's all-time scoring charts, but he could overtake Wayne Rooney's competitive record for the Three Lions against Andorra.

Kane has found the net nine times in 13 appearances in 2021 for Gareth Southgate's men to leave him 12 goals behind Rooney (53) as England's leading scorer.

However, the Tottenham forward has 36 goals to his name in competitive international fixtures – one fewer than Rooney – before the trip to the Estadi Nacional on Saturday.

Kane is also one shy of becoming just the second player to score 10 or more in two separate calendar years for the Three Lions, after Vivian Woodward in 1908 and 1909.

But comparisons between Kane and Rooney are likely to be the focus in the coming months, as the England captain targets his records – starting with this competitive benchmark.

Kane quicker to this point

Since opening his account on debut against Lithuania in March 2015, Kane has scored 36 times across 53 competitive fixtures – averaging a goal every 118 minutes.

By contrast, Rooney played 21 more matches for his 37 goals, netting once every 156 minutes on average having played an additional 1,545 minutes.

Kane, who is still waiting on his first Premier League strike of the season, has needed just 82 shots on target to reach his 36-goal mark as well, with Rooney requiring 32 more to achieve his tally.

Overall, Rooney has attempted 99 more shots than his counterpart, which translates into a 13.8 per cent conversion rate. Kane has turned 21.3 per cent of his 169 shots into goals.

 

Kane delivers on the biggest stage

Rooney may have scored five more goals than Kane (25) in major tournament qualifiers, but the latter shines when it comes to the showpiece events.

Despite playing in just one World Cup, Kane impresses ahead of Rooney in terms of goals at the finals, with his six to claim the 2018 Golden Boot towering above the former Manchester United forward's one across three tournaments between 2006 and 2014.

While Kane's goals were subsequently not enough to see England past Croatia in the semi-finals in Russia, the current Three Lions captain also guided his side to their first major tournament final in 55 years at Euro 2020.

However, Rooney (six) has scored two more European Championship goals than Kane, netting four times at Euro 2004 as he briefly became the youngest scorer in the tournament's history.

Nevertheless, Kane outscores Rooney by three at major tournaments, having proven himself the man for the big occasion on the international stage.

 

Rooney filled his boots with five competitive goals versus San Marino, against whom Kane has netted just once, but England's record scorer had an impressive four against both Croatia and Switzerland.

Kane's best hauls have been his four against Bulgaria and Montenegro, although he did score three in one match against Panama at the World Cup.

Two stars similar finishers

Strangely, Kane and Rooney have almost identical records when it comes to the breakdown of how their goals have been scored.

The pair have each scored four with their left feet and 24 with their favoured right boots, with Rooney heading in nine to Kane's eight.

Kane's swerving long-range finish against Poland last time out was his sole goal from outside the box to date, however, whereas Rooney has smashed in six goals from outside the area – two of those being free-kicks.

Rooney has six from the penalty spot, too, where Kane has proved particularly prolific, his 10 conversions from 12 yards allowing him to close quickly on a fellow great.

Jesse Lingard knows he needs regular club football as the Manchester United man bids to nail down a place in the England squad.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has used Lingard sparingly this season, despite his remarkable performances on loan at West Ham last term.

Lingard declined to speak about the prospect of a new contract at Old Trafford, with his present deal due to expire at the end of this season.

But the attacking midfielder, whose 30th birthday will fall during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, is aware his England prospects could suffer if he is not playing regularly for his club.

After narrowly missing out on a place in the Euro 2020 squad, Lingard does not want to see another major tournament pass him by.

United are stocked with attacking talent and that is holding back Lingard's prospects of being a fixture in Solskjaer's starting XI.

"The World Cup's a long way away but obviously you need regular football," Lingard said in an England news conference.

"I was so close to going to the Euros. It's a big factor; if you're playing over 20-25 games, you're knocking on the door.

"So I think it does play a big part. At the moment I'm not doing any harm and if I keep performing well and doing well you never know what might happen.

"I'll keep confident in myself and when I get time on the pitch I'll carry on doing what I'm doing."

He has made only one start for Solskjaer in 2021-22, featuring from the first minute against West Ham in an EFL Cup third-round defeat.

That is the only game where he has played for longer than 24 minutes, but Lingard has strong evidence to call on when pointing to the overall level of his performances.

In 136 minutes of United action this season, spread across six games, he has scored twice and created three chances for others, one of which resulted in a goal.

He is outperforming his expected goals (xG) score of 0.59, which reflects the quality of chances, yet he is struggling to get ahead of the likes of Anthony Martial, whose data is not as impressive at this early stage of the campaign (three starts, 245 minutes, one goal, no assists, no chances created).

Lingard could face Andorra on Saturday, having scored twice against the minnows at Wembley last month, and for now at least he is firmly in favour with England boss Gareth Southgate.

Jadon Sancho may also feature against Andorra despite Southgate last week admitting the winger only scraped into the squad.

Sancho has played 436 minutes for United since arriving from Borussia Dortmund, and he has yet to score or assist on a goal, making a slow start at Old Trafford.

Lingard is convinced the 21-year-old will come good and show the form that made him a superstar of the Bundesliga and sealed a place in Southgate's Euro 2020 squad.

"We all know Jadon is a world-class player, and he's one of the best young talents in the world at the moment," Lingard said.

"At a big club like United there is always going to be pressure. I feel like he's slowly adapting now. And you can see glimpses of that in the previous games that he's played, and now we can see that in training week in week out.

"There's no doubt that he will succeed at United, I've got full confidence in that."

Aaron Ramsey hinted at frustration with life at Juventus as he insisted his fitness is not a problem when he is "managed correctly".

The midfielder has only played four times under Massimiliano Allegri this season, last appearing as a second-half substitute in the 3-2 win over Sampdoria on September 26.

The Bianconeri said last week Ramsey was suffering from "muscle fatigue" and recent reports have indicated they are ready to listen to offers for the former Arsenal man, who joined the club in July 2019 on a contract reported to be worth upwards of €450,000 per week.

His time in Turin has been dogged by injury issues, though. Ramsey has only started 25 matches in Serie A, playing 2,238 minutes in total – just seven minutes more than Blaise Matuidi, who left for Inter Miami in August 2020.

However, the 30-year-old, who is set to captain Wales in Friday's World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic, suggested a different approach to his training and recovery could see Juve get more use out of him.

"I know what I can do and with the right management I can stay fit for a long period of time and play a lot of games," he said. "I'm still feeling good when given the opportunity and managed correctly.

 

"It has been frustrating that I have picked up these little niggly injuries, which have cost me a lot of games and meant I have missed some important games for Wales in the last couple of years.

"The training philosophy and methods are different at my club than they are here. There are a number of people here who have a number of years of managing me, so they know how to get the best out of me, and so I am able to play a number of games in a row. As I showed in the Euros this year, I'm capable of doing that and producing good performances.

"My outputs in games are pretty high, and maybe I need a bit more rest and recovery throughout the week rather than being on the grass for a long period of time and carrying more fatigue into games. Recovery is a big part of that for me."

Ramsey will lead out his country in the absence of the injured Gareth Bale, with Wales knowing a win would take them above the Czech Republic and into second in Group E with a game in hand.

"It means everything to me to play for Wales," he said. "I am so proud to represent my country.

"I have been as frustrated as anybody else over the amount of game I have missed in the past few years.

"I am happy to be back involved. I am looking forward to these two games, and to lead the boys out will be that extra bit special.

"I have experienced it before, and I loved every minute of it, and I am sure it will be a very proud moment for me and my family."

Timo Werner can be "very satisfied" with his development at Chelsea, says Germany head coach Hansi Flick.

The 25-year-old joined Chelsea for a reported €50million (£45m) from RB Leipzig contract ahead of the 2020-21 season.

He endured a difficult debut campaign in English football, though the versatile attacker's 12 goals was the joint-most of any Chelsea player alongside Tammy Abraham.

After initially losing his place in the side this term following the arrival of Romelu Lukaku, Werner has been a starter in Chelsea's last three domestic matches.

With two goals and an assist from eight appearances overall, Flick is pleased with Werner's form in a Chelsea shirt.

"Everyone has to take responsibility and show their own initiative," he said in a news conference ahead of Friday's World Cup qualifier against Romania.

"As for the development of Timo at Chelsea: He can be very satisfied. 

"But of course Chelsea have a team that is not so easy to play for. Kai [Havertz] also experiences that. The team is top-notch and is of great quality. 

"That's why a professional's career means that you have to go through valleys like this."


Werner is part of Germany's squad as Flick's side look to tighten their grip on top spot in World Cup qualification Group J.

Germany won their first three qualifiers under new boss Flick last month, scoring 12 goals without conceding in victories over Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland.

That made Flick only the second Germany head coach to win three out of three without conceding to begin his tenure after predecessor Joachim Low. 

Focus now turns to the visit of Romania, who have also not conceded in their last three matches.

"Romania are a team that wants to play football," Flick said. "They have played the last three games without letting a goal in. 

"We have to be very intense and put our opponents under pressure.

"All our players are fit and healthy and we are happy. We have a couple of players for each position, so we are spoiled for choice. We have enormous quality in this squad.

"The atmosphere is good, with the young players fitting in well, and we have trained superbly."

Flick also confirmed at Thursday's pre-match news conference that Antonio Rudiger and Niklas Sule will start in defence against Romania.

Fikayo Tomori has credited Milan legend and current technical director Paolo Maldini with helping him improve his game after earning an England recall.

Tomori looked destined for a promising future at Chelsea, returning to the club in 2019-20 to play under Frank Lampard having also linked up with him the previous season at Derby County.

In the Championship, Tomori played 47 times as Derby got to the play-offs, and he proved an able back-up option upon his return to Stamford Bridge as he made 15 Premier League appearances – all as a starter – in 2019-20.

But things soon changed, the signing of Thiago Silva at the start of 2020-21 pushing Tomori further down the pecking order – when January came around, he had played in just one Premier League match and was seemingly heading out of the door.

Tomori joined Milan on loan and quickly established himself in the team, striking up a solid partnership with Simon Kjaer. He could not help the Rossoneri to a first Scudetto in 10 years, but they did end their seven-year Champions League hiatus and Tomori's loan was made permanent.

No team in Europe's top five leagues have kept more domestic clean sheets than Milan (eight) since the start of May, and Tomori's role landed him a recall to the England squad, with the 23-year-old lauding the influence of club great Maldini.

Speaking to reporters ahead of England's World Cup qualifier against Andorra, Tomori said: "When he [Maldini] was speaking to me, I was like, 'Wow, it's Paolo Maldini'.

 

"There is that pressure knowing he's watching every game, he's there at the training ground every day, so as a defender I want to impress him.

"When I was midway through my loan, we had a chat, I asked what he thinks about my game, what I need to improve.

"He's really engaging with all the defenders, and having a legend like that around, you're going to listen. It's a nice thing to have him around, and he's been a big help."

For a while it seemed Tomori and Lampard enjoyed a similarly close bond given their time together with Derby and then the Chelsea first team.

But shortly after leaving Chelsea, Tomori said in an interview that he felt the treatment of him by Lampard – who was sacked a matter of days after the defender left – was "personal".

However, Tomori says he has not spent time dwelling on such struggles.

"To be fair, since I've been at Milan I've not really thought about it," he continued. "It was difficult, when you aren't able to play, it is difficult.

"Being able to overcome that, forget about that is part of the reason why now it's going so well. I didn't really dwell on it, I moved on. It's part of football.

"I've a really good support system, and now I've overcome all that I want to keep progressing.

"Every player wants to play, and when that opportunity came at such a big club like Milan, I was so happy, excited, and I'm really happy it's gone so well so far.

"We've started the new season well and the club has shown a lot of faith in me. I'm happy, confident and feeling really settled, and it's led me to be here [back with the England squad]."

James Ward-Prowse has received a late England call-up to replace the injured Kalvin Phillips for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary.

Leeds United midfielder Phillips has been ruled out with a calf strain he suffered in his club's 1-0 win over Watford on Saturday.

Ward-Prowse, who became the fourth Southampton player to both score and be sent off in a Premier League match after Peter Crouch (May 2005), Sadio Mane (October 2015) and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (December 2018) after he followed up a successfully converted penalty with a straight red card in the defeat to Chelsea on Saturday, is the latest addition to the squad for manager Gareth Southgate.

England's manager is already without a host of players for the October fixtures.

Reece James was ruled out on Monday, the Chelsea defender replaced by club colleague Ben Chilwell, who was part of England's Euro 2020 squad but did not feature in the tournament.

Meanwhile, ex-Blues striker Tammy Abraham was another to be drafted in, his addition coming amid the absences of Patrick Bamford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Marcus Rashford.

Defensive duo Harry Maguire and Trent-Alexander Arnold are also sidelined, while Southgate opted to leave out Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood, allowing the young duo to rest.

Phillips started all seven games as Southgate's Three Lions reached the European Championship final. Indeed, only goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (690) and John Stones (679) played more minutes in the campaign.

The 25-year-old ended the tournament with a passing accuracy of 85.92 per cent, creating three chances in the process, though missed out on glory as Italy secured the trophy via a penalty shoot-out win at Wembley Stadium.

Sitting top of Group I in the quest to qualify for Qatar 2022, England visit Andorra on Saturday before hosting Hungary three days later.

Raheem Sterling has praised the "fantastic job" done by Gareth Southgate in helping to change the perception of the England team, both with the national media and the supporters.

After a spell as interim boss, Southgate was appointed on a permanent basis in November 2016. Since then, he has steered England to a World Cup semi-final and the Euro 2020 final, where the Three Lions lost on penalties to Italy.

Sterling has been a key member of the squad during the current reign, having made his international debut under Rory Hodgson back in 2012.

"I feel like when I first went into the camp, it was very much them versus us, the media versus the players," Sterling, who has won 70 international caps and scored 18 goals, said in an interview with Sky Sports.

"When Gareth came in, he made it very clear what his intentions were, they were to make England challenge on all fronts, make us challenge at Euros and World Cups.

"If we were to do that, we had to change the perception in the media, public and us the players – we all had to be one if we wanted to achieve something with the national team.

"From the moment he [Southgate] came in, he really tried to work on building that relationship with the media and the fans and I think he's done a fantastic job at doing that."

The Manchester City forward scored three goals in the European Championship run, with the team as a whole embracing the opportunity to play on home soil in all bar one of their fixtures.

England have shown few signs of suffering a Euros hangover since the agonising defeat to Italy at Wembley Stadium; they sit top of their group in World Cup qualifying, despite a late equaliser by Poland last month ending their 100 per cent record.

Ahead of games against Andorra and Hungary, Sterling made clear how much the players appreciate the support they receive when representing their country.

"I think the fans are reconnected with the players again and you can see it when you go into the games, the players feel loved," Sterling added.

"Going into the games, even in the summer, you didn't feel any pressure. People might say 'you played every game at Wembley', but that's huge pressure as you're at home and people expect things from you."

Louis van Gaal is worried about Georginio Wijnaldum's lack of playing time with Paris Saint-Germain ahead of the Netherlands' next batch of World Cup qualifiers.

The 30-year-old joined the Ligue 1 giants on a free transfer in June after failing to agree a new contract with Liverpool, where he had spent the previous five seasons.

Having been a regular under Mauricio Pochettino at the start of the season, Wijnaldum has since lost his place in the side to Idrissa Gueye.

He has started just half of PSG's 12 matches since arriving and has featured a further five times from the substitutes' bench.

Wijnaldum's tally of 502 minutes is only the 12th most among PSG players in all competitions this term, with Gueye and Ander Herrera featuring more frequently in midfield.

But while having concerns over Wijnaldum's situation at the Parc des Princes, Van Gaal intends to stay loyal to his vice-captain.

"Of course I'm worried," he said at a news conference on Monday ahead of his side's qualifiers against Latvia and Gibraltar over the next week. 

"I already talked to him about that when he arrived here. But the alarm bells are not sounding just yet. I have lots of trust in certain players. 

"You will remember I took him to the World Cup in 2014 when he was carrying an injury. I started with [Jonathan] De Guzman but Wijnaldum soon took over and did well."

Wijnaldum is suspended for Friday's trip to Latvia as the Netherlands go in search of a third successive victory in Group G.

Van Gaal's side are above Norway on goal difference ahead of the games with Latvia and then Gibraltar three days later.

"This break is a bit calmer. Last time it was almost impossible with three matches," Van Gaal said. "We played those three games with a new group, new manager and new staff.

"I had to convince everyone of my plan, all within one and a half days. We then had one and a half days between each game."

England have called up Ben Chilwell to replace the injured Reece James, while Tammy Abraham features as a late inclusion for October's internationals.

Gareth Southgate named a 23-man squad on Thursday for World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary but has announced two changes to his group.

James, who suffered an ankle injury in Chelsea's 1-0 loss to Manchester City last month, is ruled out through injury and club colleague Chilwell takes his place.

The left-back was encouraged to prove his worth to both Southgate and Thomas Tuchel at club level after initially being left out, and he duly did so as he scored in a 3-1 defeat of Southampton on Saturday.

In that contest, Chilwell attempted four shots and made a game-high three key passes, subsequently earning a call-up at the expense of his team-mate, who was somewhat of a surprise inclusion in the first place.

Former Chelsea striker Abraham has also been included as a late call-up, with Southgate opting to extend his squad to 24 players due to the Roma forward's current form.

Abraham – who had not been selected since November 2020 – has six caps to his name and will have been disappointed with his initial omission, given the injuries to Patrick Bamford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Marcus Rashford.

Abraham has scored twice and assisted as many in seven Serie A appearances for Jose Mourinho's men and he will now act as a likely deputy to Harry Kane, who has scored nine times in 13 internationals in 2021 for England.

Borussia Dortmund head coach Marco Rose asked to ease the pressure on Erling Haaland and let him recover from a thigh injury amid question marks over his availability for Norway ahead of their World Cup qualifiers.

Haaland was absent again as Dortmund defeated Augsburg 2-1 in the Bundesliga thanks to goals from Raphael Guerreiro and Julian Brandt on Saturday.

Dortmund sensation Haaland also missed last weekend's defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach and the Champions League victory over Sporting CP on Tuesday.

As Norway prepare for qualifiers against Turkey (October 8) and Montenegro (October 11) on the road to Qatar 2022, Rose stressed that both the national team and Dortmund need the 21-year-old forward back.

"It is not my job to finish someone's hope," Rose said following the victory over Augsburg. "All I can tell you about is the status quo. Erling has been trying to play for days now. Who knows him also knows that he always wants to play.

"He didn't make it for the Champions League. It started in Gladbach and didn't work today. And he told me very timely 'Manager, I would love to play, but I can't move the way I want to. I can't even walk'. 

"This is the status quo we are working with, and I think it would be clever if we could all stop speculating. I understand the Norwegian federation. He is a human being, not a machine. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. We have to get him healthy for Borussia Dortmund but also for the Norway national team.

"We had two games without him now and at the moment, things don't look good for Norway either. This is also what Erling says, and we should release the pressure and not ask about his status every day. We should let him recover."

Haaland has scored 68 goals in 67 appearances for Dortmund since arriving from Salzburg in January 2020.

The in-demand Dortmund star opened the season by scoring 11 goals across seven games in all competitions.

Without Haaland, Dortmund recorded their eighth straight Bundesliga home triumph as Marco Reus teed up Brandt for the 51st-minute winner.

Dortmund captain Reus is the third Bundesliga player since detailed data collection to assist 100 goals in competitive matches after Thomas Muller (176) and Franck Ribery (132).

Dortmund are second in the Bundesliga, a point behind rivals Bayern Munich, who are due to host Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has dismissed Gareth Southgate's assessment of Jadon Sancho's form for Manchester United, insisting the winger was "electric" against Villarreal as he continues to settle in at Old Trafford.

Sancho has yet to either score a goal or provide an assist since his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund, with his arrival somewhat overshadowed by the stunning return of Cristiano Ronaldo to the club.

The 21-year-old’s sedate start to life with United has not cost him his place in the England squad, though national boss Southgate admitted his form perhaps did not warrant selection for the upcoming fixtures against Andorra and Hungary.

"Does he deserve to be in on these performances over the last few weeks? Well, probably not," Southgate said on Thursday, though he did make clear England believe the player can reach a "high level".

Solskjaer, however, pointed to Sancho’s performance in the 2-1 Champions League win on Wednesday as an example of what he can produce, both for club and country.

"Was that interview done before Wednesday night?" Solskjaer said when Southgate's comments were raised during a media conference ahead of United’s home game against Everton in the Premier League.

"Jadon was exceptional, he was electric. The crowd loved him and I think he felt that connection.

"He was direct, positive, he went past the full-back numerous times. Yes, he's not scored yet, but I thought, 'that's Jadon and we're going to see lots of that'."

Sancho has created five chances in open play in his outings so far, while his dribble success rate in those appearances stands at 28.57 per cent.

He played 75 minutes against Villarreal, completing 90.7 per cent of his passes and managing one shot from his 59 touches. United grabbed a late winner after his departure from the pitch, Ronaldo scoring in the fifth additional minute.

Mason Greenwood also played in that game but will not be involved for England as the Three Lions continue their World Cup qualifying campaign, Southgate leaving him out due to concerns over the young forward’s heavy workload.

Solskjaer has backed the decision as Greenwood has already made eight appearances in the campaign, scoring three times.

"Gareth is understanding that the boy is only 20 - he turned 20 today (Friday). He's going to be a top player for England and for Manchester United, but he has to be managed in the right way,” Solskjaer said.

"It gives us a chance to work on his fitness but also to give him a rest because he has been playing in many, many games at a high intensity."

Borussia Dortmund boss Marco Rose has welcomed Gareth Southgate's decision to leave Jude Bellingham out of England's latest squad.

Teenage midfielder Bellingham was a surprise omission from Southgate's 23-man group on Thursday after impressing for Dortmund in his second campaign at the club.

Southgate explained he left out the 18-year-old due to fears of burnout, with Manchester United's Mason Greenwood overlooked for the same reason.

Bellingham's 802 minutes of playing time this term is the most of any England-qualified player in Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account.

Since making his Dortmund debut on September 14 last year, the Birmingham City academy product has played 56 matches, 43 of those coming from the start.

Rose is therefore grateful that the youngster will be given a chance to rest up.

"I think it's a good decision," Rose said at a news conference on Friday previewing his side's Bundesliga clash with Augsburg. "The reason is obvious to me.

"In spite of his capabilities, he is an 18-year-old and has very little rest. We have to take care of the boys and not burn them out. That's why I welcome the decision."

 

Bellingham's team-mate Erling Haaland will play no part in Saturday's visit of Augsburg as he continues to recover from a thigh injury that has ruled him out of the last two games.

Haaland has been named in Norway's squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Turkey and Montenegro, but Rose revealed the striker will not link up with his national side.

"We're going to keep him here for the time being and make the best possible use of the time," Rose said.

"He's asked every day when he can return, so the rest will do him good. He's going to stay here for the time being."

The loss of Haaland for another game will be a major blow for Dortmund, as he has scored 68 goals in 67 games since making his debut in January 2020.

Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, with 86 goals in 71 games in all competitions, has scored more times during that period among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Dortmund have won their past three Bundesliga home matches against Augsburg, with their only defeat in the last 10 meetings coming in February 2015. 

England boss Gareth Southgate admitted Jadon Sancho has been called up for international duty even though he does not deserve a place based on form.

The 21-year-old winger has struggled since his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United, failing to register a goal or an assist in eight appearances across all competitions.

His numbers are in stark contrast to what he produced for Dortmund last season, for whom he managed 16 goals and 18 assists in 38 games across the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB-Pokal.

Sancho was also limited to just one start and two substitute appearances as England reached the final of Euro 2020 before losing to Italy on penalties, with United's new signing also missing one of the spot-kicks after being brought on.

Southgate has still named Sancho in his 23-man England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary, however, and wants to reassure the youngster as he goes through a difficult patch.

"Does he deserve to be in [the England squad] on these performances over the last few weeks? Well, probably not," Southgate said.

"But I think we feel we have invested in Jadon over a period of time, we believe he can get to a high level.

"I would like some time with him to chat with him and help that process that's going on at Manchester United as well and I think for him to feel that we have belief in him at this point is a good message."

Southgate also claimed it was only natural for Sancho to require time to adjust after moving from the German top flight to the Premier League, suggesting that it would be more difficult for him to hit the same numbers in England.

"The Bundesliga is totally different, Dortmund is a big club but Manchester United is one of the biggest in the world," Southgate continued. 

"There's some adaptation to that, there's a definite adaptation to the league. You're not going to get the goals and assists numbers, anywhere near, in our league, that you are in the Bundesliga."

Before joining up with England, Sancho will hope to kick-start his season with a goal if he features when United face Everton on October 2, in their final game before the international break.

France head coach Didier Deschamps believes FIFA's proposed biennial World Cup plan will trivialise the tournament.

FIFA, led by chief of global football development Arsene Wenger, want to shift the World Cup format to see an edition take place every two years.

The former Arsenal manager's proposal would cause further scheduling issues for international footballers with an already heavy workload for club and country.

However, after both UEFA and CONMEBOL pushed back against the idea, Deschamps warned of devaluing football's showpiece event, though he appreciates any change will likely not come during his tenure with Les Bleus.

"To be honest, my first feeling in my playing career, being able to move on to a World Cup every two years, it makes me feel like I'm trivialising it," Deschamps told reporters on Thursday.

"That's the best word I can think of. I do not have all the ins and outs. I will not be the expert but until now, every four years, it was very good like that. We are used to it.

"Afterwards, it is according to the interests of each other. If the majority is there, it can pass. I think at that time, I wouldn't be concerned anymore. So I would watch."

Spain head coach Luis Enrique is also concerned about the problems it may force on footballers' workloads, though he accepts it would improve the overall experience for spectators.

"To unify a calendar and to have attractive possibilities for the viewer it is necessary in order for football to keep being attractive to young generations and to the world in general," he said.

"But it is obvious that the calendar needs to be reduced. I am not the right or capable person to advise from where it would need to be reduced.

"A World Cup every two years, as a national coach I would be delighted, of course. But a reduction is needed. And I don't know from where this reduction must come."

Gareth Southgate is cautious of overusing Jude Bellingham and Mason Greenwood and has left the young pair out of England's squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Bellingham and Greenwood were high-profile omissions from the 23-man group named by Southgate on Thursday, along with injured defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Maguire.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Bellingham has started all 10 games at club level this season and played an hour for England in their 4-0 win over Andorra earlier this month.

Greenwood has been used regularly by Manchester United this term, meanwhile, starting seven times and featuring from the bench on one occasion.

Bellingham's 802 minutes of playing time this term is the most of any England-qualified player in Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account, while Greenwood's 634 minutes is the fourth-most of any United player.

Speaking at a news conference after announcing his squad on Thursday, Southgate said: "They're both in similar situations, young players with heavy workloads at the moment.

"I've spoken to both of them. Jude at the moment is playing a high level of matches with Champions League games, league games. As an 18-year-old he had a full season last season and then into the Euros with no break.

"We have to remember these lads are still physically growing, so when we talk about young player development we have to be really careful in how we handle them.

"These are two players we think can be really exciting for England's future. We don't want to overload them, we want to make sure we are making the right decisions with them."

With Maguire missing out through injury, Milan centre-back Fikayo Tomori has been called up nearly two years since earning his one and only cap against Kosovo.

Tomori has helped Milan to nine clean sheets in Serie A since arriving at San Siro from Chelsea in January on an initial loan deal that has since been made permanent, a tally that has been bettered by only three others.

He also ranks 11th for successful passes among defenders in the Italian top flight over that period, which played a part in Southgate's decision to recall the 23-year-old.

"I like Fikayo in terms of his aggressiveness of defending," Southgate said. "Because he's got speed he's confident enough to defend on the front foot and he's improving on the ball as well.

"I have been very impressed. I thought he finished last season well. We were tracking him well last season and he is playing well this season. 

"He is at a club that's expected to win every week. I thought he did well against Liverpool and Juventus recently."

Reece James and Mason Mount have also been selected for the games with Andorra and Hungary over the next fortnight, despite missing Chelsea's 1-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday as they continue to recover from injury.

Southgate explained: "They're clearly still to have appeared for their clubs so there's an unknown, but our understanding is Mason and Reece have a good chance for the weekend."

 

The other big news to come out of Southgate's penultimate squad selection of a memorable 2021 was the inclusion of Ollie Watkins and Aaron Ramsdale, the pair replacing Patrick Bamford and Nick Pope, respectively.

Ramsdale has made a positive start to life at Arsenal since ousting Bernd Leno as number one, his save percentage of 91.67 the second-best return of any keeper to have played at least three times for a team in Europe's top five leagues this term.

"Aaron was with us all summer and we had the opportunity to work with him for a long time and get to understand his strengths," Southgate said.

"Nick is still I think coming back from injury a little bit, but I think Aaron is just in a better vein of form at the moment.

"From Aaron's perspective, the move to a bigger club with higher expectations and a style of play where he is asked to build with his feet from the back, he's coping really well.

"I think that's an important factor for us when looking at the biggest matches, having a goalkeeper who has really adapted well to a move and is full of confidence."

 

England squad:

Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal); Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (Milan), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United), Declan Rice (West Ham); Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

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