Old faces return to England squad while Liverpool poor form sees Alexander-Arnold missing out

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England boss Gareth Southgate has recalled Jesse Lingard, Luke Shaw and John Stones to his squad for 2022 World Cup qualifiers later this month.

Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins and West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone have also been called up for the first time.

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold has not been included in the 26-man squad.

England play San Marino at home on 25 March, are in Albania on 28 March and then host Poland on 31 March.

Midfielder Lingard, who is on loan at West Ham from Manchester United, last played for the national team in June 2019.

“Jesse, of the three, is a bit more fortunate to be in,” said Southgate. “Luke and John have performed over a period of time.

“We’ve got injuries in the attacking areas that have opened up an opportunity for Jesse but, I have to say, his performances for West Ham have been excellent.

“Ideally, you’d be saying you have to do it for a little bit longer but that’s not been the option this time around.”

Borussia Dortmund’s 17-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham is in the squad but could miss out because of coronavirus restrictions in Germany.

“We are still investigating what is possible and we wanted to name him in the squad,” said Southgate.

Bellingham’s club-mate Jadon Sancho misses out with injury, along with midfielders Jordan Henderson and Jack Grealish, and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Manchester City centre-back Stones has not played for England since November 2019, while Manchester United left-back Shaw’s last game for the national side was in September 2018.

Stones, who has 39 caps, has helped City to the top of the Premier League this season, and they are also still in the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup as they aim to complete the quadruple.

“It is a huge plus for us,” Southgate said. “John has played a lot of internationals for us. For a period we were not sure if he was going to be able to recapture that form.

“When you invest that much time and as many caps in players like that and he disappears, it is a huge disappointment.

“John deserves huge credit for turning that around and finding a level of consistency. It is great to have him back.”

On Shaw’s recall, Southgate added: “We often talk about coaches’ and managers’ impact on players but we have to give players a lot of credit.

“In Luke’s case he has been defending on the front foot. He’s been aggressive in his defending and shows great ambition in his attacking play. We know he has the quality to do that.

“He has earned his chance and deserves to be in.”

Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford, who has 13 Premier League goals this season, has missed out but Southgate said he was “very close” to being picked.

Instead, the England boss opted for Watkins, who has 10 league goals in his first top-flight campaign.

“There are a number of positions in this squad that there were some real close calls on. We felt we wanted an extra striker,” added Southgate.

“Both Ollie and Patrick, their goals have been good. We like the personalities of both. Ollie is a player that we have had less interaction with in the past. It’s going to be good to get to know him.

“We like his pressing, the speed and runs in behind. He’s got some improvement to make in linking the game but, for his first season in the Premier League at a big club, he’s done exceptionally well.”

Liverpool have struggled in their title defence this season and, along with that, right-back Alexander-Arnold’s form has also suffered.

“I don’t think he has played to the level he found in the last couple of years but I think he is getting close to that now,” said Southgate. “He has taken steps in the right direction.

“I have made that same call to Kyle [Walker] and Kieran [Trippier] in the past and their response was a good one. I am certain Trent will play a big part in the future.”