GARETH SOUTHGATE is worried England’s World Cup plans have been hit by his players’ lack of Premier League game-time.
The Three Lions boss admits it is “not ideal” that Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips have struggled to feature this season.
A 28-man squad has been picked for the final two World Cup rehearsals against Italy and Germany — with Brentford striker Ivan Toney getting a first call-up.
Southgate said: “Clearly, we have a number of players who are not playing a lot of minutes with their club.
“It is not ideal but we feel they have been, and can be, important for us.
“It is not a perfect situation but there is still a lot of football before Qatar.”
England play Nations League games against Italy in Milan next Friday and at home to Germany three days later before their World Cup finals opener against Iran in Qatar on November 21.
Shaw, although struggling with a foot problem, has made just two starts for Manchester United this campaign.
New Manchester City arrival Phillips, who has had a shoulder issue, has been restricted to three substitute appearances.
Chilwell has started just twice and made four sub appearances for Chelsea.
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While Manchester United captain Maguire has only started two Prem games.
He was a 90th-minute sub for last night’s Europa League win against Sheriff Tiraspol.
If Toney, 26, makes his England debut next week, Brentford will have to pay previous club Peterborough a £1million bonus — taking the striker’s overall fee to £8m.
Southgate said: “We have been tracking him for a long time.
“His form and his qualities — not only his goalscoring but his technical ability, build-up play and aerial prowess — gives us a different threat.”
Spurs defender Eric Dier is back and Marcus Rashford, who misses out this time through injury, could still make it to Qatar.
FULL ENGLAND SQUAD
Dean Henderson, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker
Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse
Tammy Abraham, Jarrod Bowen, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Ivan Toney