Wayne Rooney and Ross Barkley have been left out of Gareth Southgate’s England squad to face Scotland and France next month.
Rooney made a brief cameo in Manchester United’s Europa League final win over Ajax in Stockholm on Wednesday night, but was brought back down to earth with the news he has not been included in a 25-man party that will contest a World Cup qualifier in Hampden on June 10, followed by a Paris friendly three days later.
The door is not closed on an international return for the 31-year-old, who had hoped to end his Three Lions career by leading his country in Russia next summer, but Southgate has placed him firmly behind Marcus Rashford, Jermain Defoe, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy in the pecking order.
Elsewhere in the squad, there is a recall for goalkeeper Jack Butland, back after a year of injury trauma dating back to his previous England appearance in Germany, a first call-up for Tottenham’s Kieran Trippier and nods for Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson and West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell.
Speaking to thefa.com, Southgate spoke of his excitement for the forthcoming fixtures.
“The Scotland game is one of football’s great fixtures,” he said.
“We’re in a place in the group where a win can really put us in a very strong position, and that’s what we want to achieve.
“France is a great challenge for us. Our ambition with our friendly matches is to play the best possible teams – we’ve done that by playing Spain and Germany already. They’re teams we want to test ourselves against and these are great opportunities to learn and improve.
“A game away in the Stade de France will be a brilliant occasion for the players.”
Burnley’s Michael Keane will not be part of those games, having made his first two appearances against Germany and Lithuania in the last international break, as he nurses a calf injury.
He is nevertheless expected to join up with the side at St George’s Park prior to the Scotland match.
Former Clarets defender Trippier’s call-up comes after he ousted Kyle Walker from the Tottenham XI at the tail end of the season.
He joins his club-mate and Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne in challenging for the right-back slot, while Cresswell edged Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs on the left side with Danny Rose and Luke Shaw unfit.
Gibbs’ Arsenal colleague Theo Walcott is also absent for the second successive get together.
Jake Livermore retains his place after a surprise recall in March but the likes of Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge, Ross Barkley and Danny Drinkwater have all been battling injuries.
In the absence of Henderson and Rooney, Chelsea’s Gary Cahill is an obvious captaincy candidate, though Kane is also an option to lead his country for the first time.
England squad in full
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Fraser Forster, Joe Hart, Tom Heaton
Defenders: Ryan Bertrand, Gary Cahill, Nathaniel Clyne, Aaron Cresswell, Ben Gibson, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Adam Lallana, Jesse Lingard, Jake Livermore, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling
Strikers: Jermain Defoe, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy