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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Gareth Southgate keeps door open for Wayne Rooney England return: 'His form has been excellent'

Call ups for Leicester defender Harry Maguire and on-loan Watford midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah

England manager Gareth Southgate during the press conference to announce his 28-man squad for the upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Carl Recine / Reuters
England manager Gareth Southgate during the press conference to announce his 28-man squad for the upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Carl Recine / Reuters

England manager Gareth Southgate has kept the door open on Wayne Rooney again playing international football one day after the striker announced his retirement from the national team.

Southgate was asked by journalists on Thursday whether he might consider asking Rooney back if injuries disrupted his squad ahead of next year's World Cup in Russia.

"Yes. [But] I guess you will have to ask him," Southgate told a press conference called to announce his 28-man squad for the away game at Malta on September 1 and the home fixture against Slovakia at Wembley three days later.

Southgate said he had a long conversation with Rooney, who announced his retirement on Wednesday, about his decision and had been considering including him in the squad.

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"His form has been excellent and I was definitely thinking about including him in the squad. We talked for about half-an-hour. As a manager in these situations you want to prod to see if a player has understood all the ramifications [of retiring].

"He had. He feels a sense of loyalty to Everton, his new club."

Rooney is England's record scorer and most capped outfield player with 53 goals in 119 games.

Two new players in Southgate's squad are Leicester City defender Harry Maguire and Watford midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah.

Maguire, a 24-year-old central defender, impressed last season with Hull City before making a move to Leicester City this summer.

"I thought his performances for Hull were very good," Southgate said.

"He is a defender who is very comfortable with the ball, he has already adjusted very well to a new club at Leicester, plays with composure and can defend the ball into the box, so this is a good chance to have a look at him."

Chalobah, a product of Chelsea's youth system who has been a regular for England at age-group level, joined Watford recently after several loan spells during his time at Stamford Bridge.

Southgate has also called up uncapped goalkeeper Jordan Pickford of Everton.

England squad:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (West Ham United), Jack Butland (Stoke City), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), John Stones (Manchester City), Michael Keane (Everton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur).

Midfielders: Eric Dier (Tottenham Hostpur), Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford), Jake Livermore (West Bromwich Albion), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United).

Forwards: Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jermaine Defoe (Bournemouth)