From Hull to Milan: Former Hull City defender earns England recall for World Cup qualifiers
England have recalled former Hull City loanee Fikayo Tomori for World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary but Gareth Southgate insists Mason Greenwood’s omission is for the Bradfordian’s long-term good.
Having played six minutes in Kosovo nearly two years ago, Tomori is not new but freshens a squad missing the injured Patrick Bamford, Harry Maguire, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and with Jude Bellingham rested.
After 26 Hull appearances in 2017-18, Tomori is another player Yorkshire can claim to having helped develop, but his improvement since cutting the apron strings at Chelsea catapulted him above ex-Leeds United loanee Ben White. Just 15 of Tomori’s 83 league starts were for Chelsea before AC Milan were his fourth loan club in January, moving permanently for £25m in the summer.
“We were tracking him closely at the end of last season,” revealed England manager Southgate. “He’s started well again this season.
“He’s at a club that has an expectation to win every week. He did very well at Liverpool in the Champions League and his next game was Juventus.
“I like Fikayo in terms of the aggressiveness of his defending. Because he’s got speed he’s confident enough to defend on the front foot.
“His use of the ball is improving all the time as well.”
Nineteen-year-old Greenwood is apparently being wrapped in the same cotton wool as 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Bellingham but having not been picked since he and Phil Foden broke Covid-19 protocols after his debut last September, there remains a suspicion Southgate is lukewarm about him. He insists not.
“(Greenwood and Bellingham) are young players with a heavy load,” he explained. “These lads are still growing so we’ve got to be really careful how we handle them.
“They’re very much decisions taken after conversations with the players and their families. We’d be picking them if we didn’t have longer-term aims in mind.”
The fit-again Ollie Watkins got the nod but Southgate does not know who he would have picked had Bamford not injured his ankle since last month’s debut, saying: “We were waiting to see how (Bamford) played for his club, mapped against others.”
Yorkshiremen Kalvin Phillips, John Stones and Kyle Walker were named as expected.
England squad: Pickford, Ramsdale, Johnstone; Walker, James, Stones, Mings, Coady, Tomori, Shaw, Trippier; Rice, Phillips, J Henderson, Mount, Lingard; Grealish, Foden, Sterling, Sancho, Saka, Kane, Watkins.