Gareth Southgate explains Callum Wilson’s England World Cup call amid ‘difficult conversations’

Gareth Southgate has explained his decision to call-up Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson to his England World Cup squad.

England boss Gareth Southgate has opened up on his decision to call-up Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson to his World Cup squad ahead of Roma’s Tammy Abraham.

Wilson went public with his World Cup ambitions but also did his talking on the pitch. In 10 Premier League appearances this season, the 30-year-old has scored six goals. Only Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane has a better goals-per-minute ratio.

The 30-year-old earns his first Three Lions call-up since 2019 alongside Magpies teammates Kieran Trippier and Nick Pope. Southgate is yet to speak to Wilson after prioritising conversations with the players who have been left out.

“I haven’t had a chance to speak to Callum,” Southgate said. “My priority, always on these days, is the difficult conversations and sad news. That is really tough.

Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

“There aren’t many situations harder in football than that. The nature of those conversations, good and bad, reminds you of how much it means to a player to go a World Cup. It is a great day but also some I’ve had to disappoint.”

Wilson got the nod ahead of the likes of Abraham and Brentford’s Ivan Toney. Southgate explained: “Tammy has had a poor run of scoring form at the wrong time really. It’s not a case where we are three or four weeks away from a final or the start of the first match, it’s 10 days. Form could be more important. We’re watching their club form but we don’t really know where they are until we see them face-to-face.

“We get regular medical updates from all their clubs but there will be medical issues we are not completely aware of yet. We know the form we’re seeing the matches but even so, you still don’t get the full picture until you get to speak and work with the players.”

England squad in full

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal).

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Coady (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal).

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham).

Forwards: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), James Maddison (Leicester City), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Callum Wilson (Newcastle).