England boss Gareth Southgate explains why Cole Palmer was called up ahead of Raheem Sterling

The youngster was a late addition to the squad (Picture: Getty Images)

England boss Gareth Southgate has revealed he called up Chelsea’s Cole Palmer ahead of team-mate Raheem Sterling because he wants to see the youngster in a No.10 role.

The Three Lions have a trio of uncapped players in their latest, somewhat experimental squad – with Palmer joined by Rico Lewis and Ezri Konsa – due to a number of more established players being unavailable through injury.

England are particularly lacking in the advanced central midfield area, with both Jude Bellingham and James Maddison forced to withdraw.

The Tottenham playmaker picked up ankle ligament damage in his side’s 4-1 defeat to Chelsea earlier this month while Bellingham has a shoulder problem which kept him out of Real Madrid’s win over Valencia last weekend.

Having been a mainstay under Southgate for many years, it seemed as though the in-form Sterling might be a natural pick to come into the squad and provide more firepower.

But, instead, Southgate opted to select the uncapped Palmer who he believes is capable of playing in a more central position despite predominantly featuring on the wing for Chelsea.

‘In terms of Cole, the key was [we] lost Maddison and Jude so we wanted somebody who could play as a 10,’ explained Southgate, who has not selected Sterling for the last five England camps since the World Cup last year.

Sterling and Palmer have excelled for Chelsea in recent weeks (Picture: Getty)

‘Of course, he’s playing wider at the moment for his club, but we hadn’t lost a winger as such, we’d lost two attacking midfield players.

‘So we’ve got a couple of players now who can fulfil that sort of role for these games.

‘Raheem was excellent at the weekend against [Manchester] City, as was Cole. But the position was the reason for [calling up] Cole really.’

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Southgate does not have an established, natural left-back in his squad with Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell both injured, but he believes Rico Lewis could do the job – though feels his long-term future lies in central midfield.

‘With Rico, at the moment we just see a very good footballer,’ continued Southgate.

‘So I think he’s probably happiest as an eight, talking to him, but he’s obviously played either full-back position. Quite often at Man City, that’s the full-back going into midfield.

‘So he’s a young player we thought it would be good to have some time with us and we’d be able to get a feel of his attributes and we’d be able to work with him closely.’

MORE : Ian Maatsen warns of ‘difficult choice’ if Chelsea game time does not improve

MORE : England icon John Barnes backs Gareth Southgate’s decision to snub Chelsea star Raheem Sterling

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