England boss Gareth Southgate welcomes Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ox back to his squad

Sunday 10 Nov 2019
Gareth Southgate catches up with Callum Hudson-Odoi during the October camp at St. George's Park

Gareth Southgate admits he’s been impressed by the return to fitness and form of both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The pair were both named in Southgate’s England squad to face Montenegro and Kosovo this month following their displays for Liverpool and Chelsea respectively.

And the manger believes they are two individuals who bring a lot to the Three Lions fold, both on and off the pitch.

“We’ve a huge belief in him [Oxlade-Chamberlain],” said Southgate, who handed him an international return in September before he missed last month's games.

“Whether it’s as a midfield player - where he’s excellent with or without the ball, provides a goalscoring threat, works hard for the team and presses well - or a wide player or a forward player, we’ve got huge belief in him.

“That’s why we brought him back a little bit earlier than we might’ve done in September. I felt in October, he had the message from us that we had faith in him, he just needed to go away and get playing more regularly so that he was coming into us ready to play.

“I think that’s the key for us, you don’t want to be coming into an England camp short of match fitness because it’s then hard to go into the games and do yourself justice.

The Ox was back in the England squad for September's games with Bulgaria and Kosovo

"He looks like he’s on a really good path, he obviously had a long period out injured and it’s great to see him back playing and the goals he’s scored in the last few weeks have been exceptional.”

With Hudson-Odoi, who only turned 19 this week, he made his international return after a serious injury with Aidy Boothroyd’s U21s last month.

And after catching the eye in the Young Lions’ 5-1 win over Austria in Milton Keynes before featuring more and more regularly for Chelsea, Southgate is glad to have him back.

“We were surprised at how quickly he was back, that would be a credit to his dedication and motivation and also everybody at Chelsea for the way they’ve managed that injury,” he explained.

“So, he’s still on his way back. With any of those long-term injuries, you take a little while to hit your very best and of course, he’s a young player so he’s still learning and improving, but already in the games he has played, we can see his level.

“He’s pushing those other wide players to start in the team so it’s great to have him back involved and I know he’ll be excited about that.

“And it’s also an important message as sometimes with players, we will move them back to the U21s at times if we think it’s the right thing.

“He acquitted himself brilliantly within that. His attitude was fantastic, he played very well in the games so we got absolutely the response we would’ve hoped from that.”

England play their 1000th men’s international at Wembley next week, when Montenegro are the visitors. Make sure you’re there for a historic occasion and also hopefully seeing the Three Lions seal their qualification for UEFA EURO 2020.

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By Nicholas Veevers