'He's A Player We Like A Lot': Gareth Southgate Tips Youngster To Star For The Three Lions
Gareth Southgate has admitted Arsenal's Emile Smith-Rowe was 'very close' to being a part of his latest England squad.
Smith-Rowe has been extremely impressive for The Gunners so far this season and starred in their 3-1 win against Tottenham last Sunday, with Southgate revealing he's a big fan of the 21 year old.
"He's a player we like a lot," the latter said in a press conference ahead of his side's upcoming World Cup Qualifiers, as quoted by Metro. "He was very close to making the squad.
"At this moment in time I don't want to bring in any more younger players out of the Under-21s. They have got to earn that right over a longer period. I thought his (Smith-Rowe) performance against Tottenham was very good.
"We know how he finished last season as well. I can only say he is a player we really like and he was close."
The Three Lions' boss was also asked about Smith-Rowe's teammate Ben White, who was a part of the Euro 2020 26-man squad. However, much like The Gunners' no.10, Southgate says the former Brighton defender was in his thoughts but didn't quite make the cut.
"He (Ben White) performed well against Tottenham," Southgate continued. "(He) is still settling into a new club. But the performance showed good signs and he is a player we are monitoring closely.
"He would have been very close to this squad as well."
Southgate explained that whilst Maguire and Alexander-Arnold are unavailable due to injuries, Bellingham and Greenwood are omitted because of fears of they might suffer from burnout.
"I've spoken to them both," the 57-time international explained, as quoted by BBC Sport. "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."
We'll see how the squad gets on when they travel to the 5th placed team in the Qualifying Group next Saturday. Kick-off is at 7:45pm.