Gareth Southgate has revealed selecting England’s World Cup squad involved some painful conversations with players not on the plane for Russia.
The 23 players were announced on Wednesday afternoon with goalkeeper Joe Hart and defender Ryan Bertrand, both regulars throughout the qualification campaign, missing from the list.
“Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly,” Southgate told the FA website.
“I could have had easier conversations by keeping them involved. Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification.
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“It wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.”
Hart has been England’s first-choice goalkeeper for the last three major tournaments and has 75 international caps but has struggled to cement a place in the first team during his loan spell at West Ham.
He was left out of the Hammers starting XI by manager David Moyes for their final four games of the season.
“Or do I give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season.”
Bertrand will feel unlucky not to get the nod having impressed on his 19 England appearances and was a consistent performer for Southampton this season despite their relegation battle.
“Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have,” said Southgate, who selected Tottenham left-back Danny Rose.
“Ryan has had a decent season but I just felt the others were ahead of him.”
England will play two matches before travelling to Russia on June 2 against Nigeria at Wembley and on June 7 against Costa Rica at Elland Road.
The World Cup starts on June 14. England first play Tunisia four days later, before facing Panama (June 24) and Belgium on June 28.