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Anthony Gordon says choosing Scotland over England was ‘never a thought’

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Newcastle forward Anthony Gordon insists he only ever had eyes for England and that a switch of international allegiance to Scotland was “never a thought”.

The 23-year-old has earned his first senior call-up for the upcoming Wembley friendly double-header against Brazil and Belgium, potentially breaking into Gareth Southgate’s squad just in time for Euro 2024.

Gordon helped England to glory at the 2023 European U21 Championship, where he was also named as player of the tournament.

He remains available to both the Republic of Ireland and Scotland through his heritage, with the latter seemingly a possible option to get into the senior international scene and secure a spot at the Euros this summer.

Now, though, that opportunity comes with England and, for the former Everton winger, that was the only outcome he was looking for.

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Gordon helped England to glory at the 2023 European U21 Championship

“It was never a thought for me,” he said when asked if he had considered it.

“That’s no disrespect to Scotland, that’s all. I’ve been tunnel-visioned on playing for England since I was five or six years old. Nothing could ever shake that off.

“I could never forgive myself if I hadn’t got to this point. Like I said, it is just a dream I’ve had from so young so nothing else has ever entered my mind at any time.”

Born in Liverpool, Gordon’s passion for one day wanting to wear the Three Lions of England stems from local boys he looked up to as a youngster.

Anthony Gordon celebrates after equalising for Newcastle against Bournemouth
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Gordon’s form for Newcastle has been rewarded with an England call-up

“I think I’ve always just wanted to be at the very top of football,” he said.

“I think that’s every kid’s dream who likes football. I think as a young English kid, that is the pinnacle to play for your country so it is no extra motivation or a great story but just that.

“For me, it was always (Wayne) Rooney and (Steven) Gerrard because they were from similar areas.

“I always used to run around the garden from the youngest age I can remember and try and recreate goals, create my own types of goals. I looked up to them massively.”

Gomez: England return has ended period which took a ‘psychological toll’

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Joe Gomez says coming back into the England squad after four years away has allowed him to close the chapter of injury troubles he experienced when he was last called up.

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez says his return to St George’s Park with England for the first time in three-and-a-half years has closed the chapter on a difficult period of his career which had a “psychological toll”.

The Liverpool defender is back on the international scene following a fine season, making the cut in Southgate’s final squad selection before he names his 23-man pool for Euro 2024.

It was during a session while away with England in November 2020 when Gomez injured the tendons in his knee, leading to surgery and an eight-month spell on the sidelines that became a near-four year absence from Southgate’s squad.

Now Gomez is back in the reckoning and feels he has already put the pain behind him – even before the upcoming Wembley friendly double-header against Brazil and Belgium.

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t have a psychological toll,” he replied when asked how it felt to return to the same training pitch where he suffered his injury.

“I left in an ambulance quite abruptly from the training pitch. It meant a lot to me. Just even yesterday, doing the warm up. It was nice to feel like I could close that chapter, not to be over dramatic.

“Everyone gets injured, it is part of the game but it being so sudden, the way it happened, just leaving and never really getting the chance to come back was tough to deal with.

“It has meant a lot just to be in the mix, to be with the boys and close that chapter for me personally.”

Branthwaite: England call a dream come true

Jarrod Branthwaite
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Jarrod Branthwaite alongside Gordon at England training

Jarrad Branthwaite is the latest England player to see his “dream come true” after receiving his first senior call-up – but the Everton defender has revealed his career was nearly sidelined with injury before it got going.

The 21-year-old’s call-up is a reward for fine club form in trying circumstances for the Toffees as they battle for Premier League survival.

Branthwaite’s path to the England set-up was a less travelled one having come up through the ranks at hometown club Carlisle before joining Everton and going on to spend time on loan at PSV Eindhoven – where he praised then-manager Ruud van Nistelrooy for improving his game.

“If you’d have said at the start of the season that I would be in the England squad then I probably wouldn’t have believed it, but that’s where I am now and I’m very happy to be here,” said Branthwaite.

“I thought I’d be with the U21s [during this international break] so I had nothing planned. But getting the call for the seniors was a dream come true.”

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England manager Gareth Southgate hails the recent form of Jarrad Branthwaite and Anthony Gordon as reasons ton why he has included them in his latest squad.

On his loan to Eredivisie side PSV, he added: “It was massive – I think that’s where it all started. I went abroad and had new life experiences,” he added.

“I think it’s made me become more of a man and it enabled me to come back to the Premier League and play regularly after being abroad.

“He (van Nistelrooy) was really good for me. I went over there and didn’t play as many games as I would have liked. It got to January and I was thinking of maybe going back to Everton and getting another loan or staying there for the second half of the season.

“But he was ringing me every day and promising I would get my chance. That’s what happened in the second half of the season. I played every game. I got the progression from the second half of that season and took it into this one.”

Southgate should test Palmer and Branthwaite in friendlies

Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:

“It’s unfair to bring in players like Cole Palmer and Jarrad Branthwaite and play them at Wembley alongside a lorry load of players with three or four caps each.

“If Palmer has a chance of going to the Euros, then play him with the likes of Kane, Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham where they can get a bit of understanding between them.

“Everything goes through Palmer at Chelsea but that won’t be the case with England. He has to play in one of these friendlies to understand he won’t be touching the ball 100 times and get used to that.

“It’s a different game at the international level, especially for someone like him where he’s the star man at Chelsea. In my opinion, it’s too soon to see Palmer starting at the Euros having only a few caps.

“Jarrad Branthwaite has to play in both games to see where he’s at. At Everton, they play on the edge of their own box. Head it, block it, kick it away. They’re under the cosh for 75 per cent of the games you’re in.

“With England, you’re playing on the halfway line and dominating matches but against Brazil and Belgium you’re playing up against players who are electric and running in behind. How do you cope with it? These two good teams will come and have a go at England. He deserves to be in, he’s done well, but now we’ve got to see where he’s at.

“I know what Jordan Pickford can do, so we need a different goalkeeper to play the next two games just in case he gets injured. Aaron Ramsdale should play in both because he’s not going to play a lot of football between now and the end of the season.”

England’s Euro 2024 fixtures

Jude Bellingham

Sunday June 16 – Group C: Serbia vs England (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen – kick-off 8pm UK time)

Thursday June 20 – Group C: Denmark vs England (Waldstadion, Frankfurt – kick-off 5pm UK time)

Tuesday June 25 – Group C: England vs Slovenia (RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne – kick-off 8pm UK time)

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