I'm looking forward to meeting players, says Allardyce

Monday 29 Aug 2016
Sam Allardyce speaks to the media at St. George's Park

Sam Allardyce says he expects a fully-fit squad to report for duty on Monday afternoon.

The England manager named his squad for this weekend’s trip to Slovakia on Sunday evening.

Slovakia v England

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
European Qualifiers (Group F)
5pm (BST), Saturday 4 September
City Arena, Trnava (Slovakia)


Allardyce spoke to the media at St. George’s Park ahead of the group’s arrival, and dismissed fears over any injury problems.

“Luckily this weekend, fingers-crossed, there were no injuries,” said the new boss.

“The only worries were Kyle Walker and Eric Dier but that was only illness, so that was a bonus when we got the call. 

“John Stones came off yesterday but that's OK so they're all joining us today and I'm looking forward to meeting them later on.”


Watch FATV's round-up of Allardyce's Monday-morning press conference

Among the 23 players heading to the national football centre is West Ham winger Michail Antonio, who is the only uncapped player in the squad.

Asked what led him to call on the 26-year-old, Allardyce said: “The impact he had last year and at the start of this year with his attacking flair, his quality for final-third delivery and his goal record from a wide position. 

“I think that the quality of the player has shone through in every league he's played in. 

“That journey is something that deserves to be in this squad and for me to have a look at as a potential player going forward.

“It's a bit similar to Jamie Vardy,” continued the manager, comparing Antonio’s ascent from non-league football to that of the Leicester City striker. 

“It shows how much it means that if you've got guts, determination and desire when you start where Michail is and then go forward and create a career for himself that finally ends up in the Premier League and in this squad. 

“I’m looking forward to meeting him and everybody for the first time.”


Michail Antonio celebrates after scoring the winning goal for West Ham United against AFC Bournemouth

Antonio celebrates after scoring for West Ham earlier this month

There was no place in the squad for Everton’s Ross Barkley, with Allardyce admitting he had to make some tough calls.

“We've been in deep discussion regarding the squad over the last few days and we've had to make some very, very difficult decisions – and none more so than Ross Barkley, which is obviously for him disappointing.

“For me, you have to make these decisions. The door will always be open for Ross but at this moment I felt the squad I've picked is the right one.

“We made our minds up over the last four to six weeks, particularly since the season's started,” continued the boss.

“We look at all avenues: what sort of pre-season they've had, what happened last season and what's happened at the start of this season as well as the balance of the squad.”

By Jim Lucas at St. George's Park