England manager Gareth Southgate has explained his decision to leave in-form Arsenal attacker Emile Smith Rowe out of his squad for the Three Lions' final World Cup qualifiers later this month.
The versatile 21-year-old has been on top of his game of late, scoring three goals and providing two assists in his last five league matches for the Gunners.
However, despite being in red-hot form as the international break approaches, Smith Rowe has been forced to settle for a place in the Under-21 squad after being overlooked by Southgate for clashes with Albania and San Marino.
The Three Lions boss has instead decided to lean upon established members of his squad, with England almost certainly needing four points from their two remaining World Cup qualifiers to secure their place at next year's showpiece.
When asked about Smith Rowe's absence in a press conference following the squad announcement, Southgate said: "Emile Smith Rowe, Conor Gallagher, Marc Guehi are all playing very well for their clubs, but we've got depth.
"To include them, we've got to leave some of the players on the sheet out. It's not a bad thing that we're starting to get a very strong Under-21 team.
"We fast-track a lot of players very quickly. A lot of them [former U21 players] are in this squad now and played a big part in the Euros.
"When you put them back to the 21s that can be complicated. It's a little bit early - we could put them in and they would be absolutely fine, by the way."
Southgate said before the previous international break that Smith Rowe was 'very close' to making the squad, so it seems a call-up is just a matter of time.
Source : 90min