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Gareth Southgate reveals how he told 'devastated' Grealish about England axe

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GARETH SOUTHGATE revealed England’s stars were “devastated” after he dropped his Euro 2024 bombshells.

The Three Lions boss axed injured Harry Maguire, plus attackers Jack Grealish and James Maddison as he reduced his 33-man squad to 26.

Gareth Southgate explained his difficult decisions

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Gareth Southgate explained his difficult decisionsCredit: Getty
Jack Grealish and James Maddison were both omitted from the squad

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Jack Grealish and James Maddison were both omitted from the squadCredit: Getty

And incredibly, only half the 26-man squad from the 2022 World Cup is left.

Southgate only broke the news to Manchester City’s £100million star Grealish, 28, after training yesterday.

The Three Lions chief said: “I have just delivered a really difficult conversation to a lad who is devastated. I think the world of him as a kid.

“It certainly doesn’t get any easier. You put yourself in the shoes of a player, a parent. You understand that for these players this is a devastating moment.

“We knew we had a couple of really difficult days coming up.

“The whole period has been tough, going back to talking to Marcus Rashford and Hendo (Jordan Henderson).

“Lots of difficult calls. But we have worked  through all of  that.”

England face Iceland in their final pre-Euros friendly at Wembley tonight.

Southgate added: “At the start of the camp there was a little bit of doubt over Cole Palmer, Bukayo Saka wasn’t on the pitch. Anthony Gordon wasn’t on the pitch.

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“We had to see where those things developed yesterday and then to today and the final  confirmation.

“We just felt other players had stronger seasons, particularly in the last six months.”

‘You know what he’s done for me’ – Emotional Gareth Southgate reveals why he left Harry Maguire out of England squad

What Southgate said about axed England stars

WHAT Gareth Southgate said about his axed England stars after confirming his 26-man England squad for Euro 2024.

Harry Maguire

“The decision on Harry [Maguire] is totally about his physical condition and his recovery from the injury. There is no other reason as he is one of our strongest centre-backs.

“Harry has made some progress, but it’s been complicated and we wouldn’t have had him in the group stages. There were too many hurdles to get through without being clear where we might get to.

“Knowing we haven’t got a clean bill of health across the rest of the backline, we need players who are fit and ready to go from the start.

“It was a really difficult call, you know how I feel about Harry, what he’s done for England and for me as a manager. “

Jack Grealish and James Maddison

“Madders [Maddison] and Jack [Grealish] would have provided us with something different as well and they’ve been tough calls.

“They’re calls we’ve gone over and over and over as a group of staff to try to be fair and to try to use the right rationale.

“We back our decisions but we recognise we could have gone a different route. The boys are big characters, fabulous team-mates and great boys to work with.

“It’s sad to have to deliver that news to them.”

Jarrad Branthwaite

“It’s a bit early for Jarrad [Branthwaite]. He has had a fabulous season, it was good to get him on the pitch the other night.

“But of course, in an ideal world, you’d like that balance of left-footers. For him to be in ahead of the others, I don’t think it would have been the right call at this stage.”

Jarell Quansah

“Jarell Quansah has stayed with us. He’s not had the experience of an England international at Wembley. It’ll be great for him to be us for the game.

“Hopefully we’re not needing to call anyone else in.”

Also given the boot were keeper James Trafford, defenders Jarell Quansah, Jarrad Branthwaite and midfielder Curtis Jones.

Southgate waited until yesterday to tell Grealish as there were fitness concerns over another player, believed to be Gordon.

If he had broken down in training, Grealish would have remained.

Maguire, 31 —  suffering with a calf issue —  went out running yesterday morning and thought he would be in the squad.

He was stunned when given the bad news.

The centre-back, who will miss his first major international tournament since Southgate took charge in November 2016, said: “I am devastated not to have been selected.

“Despite my best efforts, I have not been able to overcome an injury to my calf. Maybe I pushed myself too hard to try and make it.

“Simply, I am absolutely gutted.

“Representing England is the highest honour. It means everything to me.

“If I can’t help the team as a player, I will support them as a fan. Go and win it, boys.”

This is a bold changing of the guard from Southgate… he’s never been afraid to be ruthless

GARETH SOUTHGATE has made a habit of taking ruthless calls during his eight years as England boss, writes Dave Kidd.

And his decision to axe Jack Grealish, as well as James Maddison, is further evidence of the Three Lions chief being unafraid to take big decisions with big-name players. 

Harry Maguire is also among the seven players left out for the squad to travel to Germany for the Euros, although the decision to omit the Manchester United centre-back is based on his failure to recover from injury. 

Southgate is, more than ever, picking on form.

Attacking midfielders such as Eberechi Eze, Jarrod Bowen, Cole Palmer and Anthony Gordon have been rewarded with call-ups for their excellent Premier League form, while Marcus Rashford, Maddison and Grealish all get the chop.

While the England boss is often regarded as an over-cautious nice guy, he took big decisions in getting rid of the likes of Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and Chris Smalling at the start of his reign. 

Southgate also jettisoned Raheem Sterling last year after the Chelsea man had been a regular starter throughout most of his reign. 

And Jordan Henderson was left out of the 33-man preliminary squad having been a stalwart for Southgate throughout his previous three tournaments.  

Grealish has been a cause celebre for England fans – who have often accused Southgate of holding an agenda against him. 

But he has struggled for game-time with Manchester City all season, just as Maddison has been off-form since returning from injury at Spurs.

This is a bold changing of the guard from Southgate, who has relied heavily on Maguire, Henderson, Sterling and Rashford throughout his time in charge, while Grealish and Maddison are both popular flair players who fully expected to make the 26-man party for Germany.

Burnley keeper James Trafford, the Liverpool duo of Curtis Jones and Jarrell Quansah and Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite make up Southgate’s seven-man cull along with Grealish, Maddison and Maguire. 

Spurs star Maddison, 27, said: “Devastated doesn’t quite cut it.

“If I’m honest with myself, my form for Spurs when coming back from injury in the second half of the season probably wasn’t at the levels I had set, which gave Gareth a decision to make.

“I still thought there would be a space for me in a 26-man squad as  I feel I bring something different and had been a mainstay in this  qualifying campaign.

 “But the manager has made the decision and I have to respect that. I genuinely hope that football comes home.”

England midfielder Declan Rice said: “Jack and Madders are two of my best mates in the squad and I’ve spent most of my time with them this week.

“Now they’re going home, so I don’t know what I’m going to be doing for the rest of the few weeks!

“They’re gutted they’ve been left out of the squad. We’re so close as a group and no one is feeling really bitter about being left out.

“It’s football. It happens. The manager has to make harsh decisions.”

Southgate also picked striker Ivan Toney as he believed he needed more than Ollie Watkins as an option if skipper Harry Kane got injured.

Southgate said: “We’re conscious that if you had a problem with Harry, then to only have one alternative, you could run into trouble.”

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