Ivory Coast-born Guehi earns first England call-up

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Marc Guehi in action for England Under-21sMarc Guehi captained England Under-21s during the previous international break

England have called up uncapped Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi for the friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast this month.

Palace midfielder Conor Gallagher, Arsenal defender Ben White and Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope have been recalled by manager Gareth Southgate.

Defender Kyle Walker and forwards Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho have been left out.

England face Switzerland on 26 March and Ivory Coast on 29 March at Wembley.

Guehi, a 21-year-old Ivory Coast-born centre-back, has played in all but one of Palace's 29 Premier League games this season since joining from Chelsea last summer.

"He's had a really consistent season - really impressed on and off the ball," said Southgate.

"In the biggest games he has been very calm. He's a junior World Cup winner."

Injuries ruled out Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell and Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, while Manchester United's Luke Shaw is the only recognised left-back in the squad.

England have never played Ivory Coast at senior level and the match will be their first against non-European opposition since November 2018.

England will play four Nations League games in June, with trips to Hungary and Germany followed by a repeat of the Euro 2020 final at home to Italy and a home game against Hungary.

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Goalkeepers: Nick Pope, Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale.

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Coady, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Ben White.

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse.

Forwards: Tammy Abraham, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Raheem Sterling.

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Southgate said the omission of Manchester City defender Walker, who has won 65 caps, will not harm his chances of playing at this year's Word Cup.

"I had a chat with Kyle. We felt this was an opportunity to have a look at the two younger full-backs. These young full-backs are exciting," said Southgate.

"We know all there is to know about Kyle. He's a very important player and he'll be back with us in June.

"We are very happy with what he's done. He's been a huge part of the progress we've made with this team and you can see in the biggest matches with Manchester City this year he's still been a key player for them."

Sancho has scored three goals in 23 games for England and was part of the squad that reached the final of last summer's European Championships.

He was also overlooked for England's most recent games, World Cup qualifying wins over San Marino and Albania in November.

"Jadon's performances have improved at Manchester United, but it is an area where we have big competition for places," said Southgate.

"You just have to look at the other attacking players in the squad: Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, Phil Foden."

Southgate said "there wasn't a chance we weren't going to call up" Manchester United defender Harry Maguire despite criticism of his recent performances.

"He's one of our best centre-backs," Southgate added. "I always get criticised for being inconsistent but there are nuances. We have more competition in the wide areas."

Analysis

Phil McNulty, BBC Sport chief football writer

Maguire can consider himself very fortunate to retain Southgate's faith given his current dreadful form for United, although team-mate Rashford has paid the price for his decline.

Maguire must be under no illusion that he is anything like an automatic choice given the inclusion of Guehi and the presence of White.

AC Milan's Fikayo Tomori arguably had stronger claims than United captain Maguire in present circumstances and it seems loyalty rather than form keeps Maguire in Southgate's thoughts.

Gallagher will also hope to get another chance after his outstanding form under manager Patrick Vieira at Palace.

Sancho has shown signs of coming to terms with life at Old Trafford in recent weeks, but clearly must do more to impress Southgate and regain his place in the squad.

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