Gareth Southgate’s blunt ‘priority’ response to Callum Wilson’s England World Cup call-up

Gareth Southgate didn't have too much to say when asked about Callum Wilson’s inclusion in England’s 26-man World Cup squad.

The Newcastle striker joined team-mates Nick Pope and Kieran Trippier as part of the Three Lions squad heading to Qatar later this month. It is the first time The Magpies have had a representative for England at a major tournament since Michael Owen in 2006.

It is also the first time more than one Newcastle player has been called-up to an England World Cup squad since Alan Shearer, David Batty and Rob Lee in 1998.

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But when asked about Wilson’s inclusion and how the player responded to his first international call-up since 2019, Southgate didn’t give anything away: “I haven't had the chance to speak with Callum.

Callum Wilson of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa at St. James Park on October 29, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

"My priority on these days is always the difficult conversations and the sad news which is really tough.”

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The England boss added: “We've wanted to make sure we've got the balance of the squad right. In this day and age, the squad is more important than ever.

"With five substitutes you can have almost half of your team change during a game so you want different options for different moments in matches and different stages of the tournament as well.

"We've had to cover a couple of players who aren't yet fully fit or fully match fit so we've been able to take a couple of risks that we may not have been able to with 23. We think the balance is there and we've got the cover we need.”