Southampton's Nathan Redmond named in England squad for Nations League finals

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Southampton’s Nathan Redmond is the surprise name in England manager Gareth Southgate‘s initial squad for the Nations League finals.

The Three Lions boss named a 27-man group ahead of this summer’s inaugural finals in Portugal, although he will need to cut the group down to 23 by May 27.

Unsurprisingly there are no uncapped players in Southgate’s selection, but there is a shock call-up for Redmond.

Overlooked since winning his one and only England cap in March 2017, the 25-year-old scooped the Player of the Year double at Saints’ end of year awards after a fine campaign.

England captain Harry Kane has been selected by Southgate despite an ankle ligament injury, while Harry Winks has also got the nod after groin surgery.

There is no place for Ruben Loftus-Cheek after sustaining a nasty-looking ankle injury playing in a friendly for Chelsea on Wednesday, while fellow midfielders Declan Rice and James Ward-Prowse are involved again.

Jesse Lingard and Joe Gomez return to the squad, while Luke Shaw and James Tarkowski are left out.

Southgate believes Redmond deserved his return to the England fold after the winger scored nine goals in the second half of the season.

Speaking at a press conference, the England manager said: “I think he finished the season really well. I think the new manager has had a positive effect: a lot of pace, playing the high press and has started to score more regularly.

“It is a really good opportunity for Nathan.”

Southgate also explained his reasons for including Kane and Winks, despite the Tottenham duo currently being sidelined by injury.

“For the likes of Harry Winks, he deserves to named in the initial squad. It is a case that he hasn’t played for a couple of months so we will have to see,” Southgate said.

“That’s (Kane’s fitness) one of the unknowns. He’s working to be fit for the (Champions League) final. We are keeping that door open. We are going to look post-Champions League final. There is the physical aspect and emotional aspect of that final that we have to look at.

“I don’t think we have had a time where we haven’t had a lot of pullouts but we have a really strong squad. We will know more by that date (May 27) but we can make changes after that date.”

Kane makes the squad, despite being injured.

Kane makes the squad, despite being injured.

Southgate was positive in how the impact of his players featuring in the Champions League and Europa League finals can have on his team in the future.

He said: “In the long-term for England, it’s brilliant. All of these experiences are what this team hasn’t had before.

“It’s been an incredible couple of weeks for English football and we are looking forward to continuing that.”

The exclusion of Manchester United left-back Shaw raised a few eyebrows.

But when asked if it was a tough choice, Southgate said: “No. Ben Chilwell and Danny Rose have been excellent for us so they are ahead in the pecking order. But it gives us a lot of good options.”

The England manager also added that Chelsea pair Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi would have been selected if they were fit.

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Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain announces international retirement

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Gonzalo Higuain has had a mixed career in Argentina colours.

Chelsea striker Gonzalo Higuain has announced his retirement from international football with Argentina, citing family reasons.

The 31-year-old, who joined Chelsea in January on a loan deal from Juventus, scored 31 goals in 75 appearances for the Albiceleste, with his last match a 2-1 win over Nigeria in the World Cup last June.

Explaining his decision in an interview with Fox Sports, Higuain said: “My time with Argentina is over. Thinking things through in depth, my time is up.

“To the delight of many, now I will only look at it from the outside. I have spoken to (manager Lionel) Scaloni and told him my point of view.

“I’ve made the decision because I want to enjoy my family, I want to spend time with my daughter, and at the same time, I feel that I gave my country everything I could.”

Higuain, who has scored three goals in 10 appearances since joining Chelsea towards the end of January, added: “I’m fully focused on my commitment to Chelsea.

“The Premier League is amazing and I really want to enjoy it. It’s very competitive indeed.”

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Luis Enrique prepared Spain well for win over Malta, says Sergio Ramos

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Luis Enrique

Spain defender Sergio Ramos admitted that Luis Enrique prepared the team well for their Euro 2020 qualifier against Malta despite being absent from the touchlines.

Alvaro Morata scored two goals as La Roja went to the top of their qualification group, owing much to the gameplan created by Enrique.

With the Spain coach missing the match because of family reasons, assistant Robert Moreno took charge of the team, which showed some seven fresh faces from the side which had beaten Norway in Valencia on Saturday.

“Despite the coach being absent, we were very well prepared,” Ramos said to Marca.

“It’s been a difficult situation and the group has felt for the coach having a personal problem.

“We dedicate this victory to him and his family, we’ve done what we had to do, in this team we’re all a family and everyone feels each other’s personal problems.

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