Emile Smith Rowe has been called up to the England senior men’s squad for the first time.
Arsenal’s 21-year-old attacking midfielder joined the England squad at St George’s Park on Monday ahead of the forthcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Albania and San Marino.
He had initially been set to join up with the U21s but has been drafted in by manager Gareth Southgate after Marcus Rashford, James Ward-Prowse, Mason Mount and Luke Shaw did not report for international duty.
Rashford will remain with Manchester United in order to concentrate on regaining full fitness while Shaw is currently following concussion protocol at the club.
Ward-Prowse is ruled out through illness, while Mount’s arrival has been delayed due to recent dental surgery.
Southgate begins preparation for Albania and San Marino with 22 players.
Smith Rowe rewarded for fine form
Smith Rowe has appeared in all of Arsenal’s Premier League games this season and has scored in each of his last three in the competition.
After hitting the winner in Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Watford on Sunday, Smith Rowe discussed his initial omission from the England senior squad.
He told Sky Sports: “It is important I just keep my head down and keep working hard. I am happy whoever I get called up for.”
The forward will now link up with Arsenal team-mates Bukayo Saka and Aaron Ramsdale.
Analysis: How Smith Rowe hit another level
Sky Sports feature writer Nick Wright:
“With his sweeping finish in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Watford, Smith Rowe scored his fifth goal in eight appearances, beating his total for the whole of last season only a couple of months into the new one.
“The academy graduate was challenged to contribute more goals by Mikel Arteta during his breakthrough campaign and he is delivering. Smith Rowe, already one of the most exciting young players in the country, is now taking his game to another level.
“His importance to his club is growing by the week. There have been four goals and two assists in the Premier League so far, giving him the highest combined total among Arsenal players this season. “He’s just been superb,” said Arteta recently.
“He will hope to seize his chance with England as he has at Arsenal.
“The 21-year-old was instrumental in their improvement last season and has embraced the responsibility of taking the No 10 shirt after signing a new contract with his boyhood club in July.
“Together with Bukayo Saka, he has come to symbolise an exciting new chapter. His progress, which has accelerated in the new campaign, is a result of hard work and meticulous attention to detail behind the scenes.”
Read the full feature here
When can England qualify for the World Cup?
England need four points from their final two group games to be certain of qualification for the 2022 World Cup.
England’s lead at the top of Group I was cut to three points last month as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Hungary at Wembley, while Poland beat Albania 1-0 to move into second place.
Gareth Southgate’s side can still secure qualification with a game to spare if they beat Albania at Wembley this week and Poland drop points away to Andorra.
England’s remaining fixtures
Nov 12 – Albania (h)
Nov 15 – San Marino (a)
They can also secure their place at the tournament with a game to spare if they draw with Albania – but only in the unlikely event that Poland lose against minnows Andorra.
Given Poland will be expected to beat Andorra, who are ranked 156th in the world, the likelihood is that England will not be certain of qualification until after their final group game away to bottom side San Marino on Monday November 15.
But given their superior goal difference to Poland, three points from the two games may well be all England need to clinch top spot and an automatic place at Qatar.
How to follow England’s World Cup Qualifiers
Follow every England game with dedicated live blogs across Sky Sports’ digital platforms, and watch free match highlights on the Sky Sports website and app, as well as the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel.