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Nations League: Bowen finally handed Three Lions chance

West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen and Leicester City full-back James Justin have both been called into the England squad for the first time by boss Gareth Southgate.

(This article was originally published on 25.05.2022)

The Three Lions chief has named a 27-man squad for June's four Nations League games and included in it are Hammers star Bowen and Foxes defender Justin.

Tomori back in the fold

Fikayo Tomori, who has done well this season for Italian champions AC Milan, is recalled, alongside fit-again duo Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker, but there's no places for Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson, Arsenal starlet Emile Smith Rowe and Aston Villa centre-back Tyrone Mings.

Bowen is the headline new name in the party and his place in the England set-up is richly deserved and, arguably, long overdue.

The 25-year-old has scored 12 Premier League goals this season and he's also weighed in with 12 assists to underline his threat in the final third. He will now hope to get his chance to impress in the upcoming games against Hungary (twice), Germany and Italy in Nations League Group A3.

Bowen rewarded for fine form

Bowen has been outstanding for the Hammers and Southgate admitted he was in contention for a call-up in March, but injury then took him out of the equation. He has returned to fitness over the run-in, though, and hit four goals while registering two assists in his club's final eight league games.

The England boss says Bowen is evidence that players who rise up from the lower divisions - with the winger coming through at Hereford United and Hull City before he joined the Irons in 2020, have as good a chance as anyone of earning international status.

He said: "We were certainly thinking about involving him in March before he got injured. He is a goal threat and he is direct. His journey is really interesting in terms of the experiences he has had.

"It's a reminder you don't have to be at an elite academy and come through that pathway. Coming through the lower divisions is also a great route and he worked incredibly hard for the team. He has thoroughly deserved his call-up."

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Versatile Justin stakes a claim

Justin, who has recovered from a serious knee injury to impress for Leicester of late, usually operates at right-back but, with England blessed with plenty of talent down the right, he may come into contention at left-back, where he has featured for the Foxes in the final few weeks of the season.

Southgate insisted former Chelsea defender Tomori has also deserved his recall after recently helping Milan win the Serie A title, while he explained his decision to leave Henderson out after a gruelling campaign for Liverpool, saying: "I don't need to know any more about him and he's played a lot of football this season."

England go to Budapest to begin their Nations League campaign on 4th June, when they are 4/11 to win, before a tantalising showdown in Munich against old rivals Germany three days later.

It's then a home date with European champions Italy at Wolves' Molineux stadium on 11th June, which is also the venue for the return game against Hungary on 14th June.

England, who are 11/2 to win the World Cup this winter in Qatar, are 6/4 to win their Nations League group, ahead of European champions Italy at 13/8 and Germany at 9/4, with Hungary outsiders at 50/1.

Wales call up Denham

Meanwhile, Wales boss Robert Page has called up Cardiff City defender Oliver Denham for the first time, but uncapped Nathan Broadhead has been forced to withdraw from the Dragons' squad for their upcoming World Cup play-off final against either Scotland or Ukraine.

Ipswich Town winger Wes Burns has also been added to the Wales squad as cover.

Wales have a busy June as they go to Poland in the Nations League on 1st June, before the huge World Cup play-off which is scheduled for 5th June, as they hope to book their place in Qatar.

Page's side then host the Netherlands and Belgium on 8th and 11th June respectively, before travelling to Holland on 14th June.

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