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Gareth Southgate says Jadon Sancho is not a Three Lion on merit – but in the hope that a heart-to-heart can kickstart his Manchester United career.
He has struggled in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo following his £75m summer move from Borussia Dortmund.
However, by including him in the 23-man squad for Andorra and Hungary later this month, Southgate wants to offer him a shoulder to lean on.
“Does he deserve to be in on these performances over the last few weeks – well probably not?” Southgate said.
“But we feel we have invested in Jadon over a period of time, we believe he can get to a high level.
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“I would like some time with him to chat with him and help that process what’s going on at Manchester United.
“For him to feel that we have belief in him at this point is a good message.
United team-mate Mason Greenwood, on the other hand, was snubbed on the eve of his 20th birthday with Southgate finally admitting he was wrong to pick him 13 months ago.
Once again the striker was left out of the squad of 23, which also saw the surprise omission of Jude Bellingham… but returns for Fikayo Tomori and Ollie Watkins.
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Greenwood was just 18 when he made his debut against Iceland last September before breaking COVID rules by meeting two young girls in a Reykjavik hotel room afterwards.
Southgate explained he should have given him more time to establish himself at Old Trafford before fast-tracking him onto the international stage.
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“We didn’t know as much about him at that point and you’re drawn by the maturity that you see on the field,” he said.
“So you’d have to say that maybe that was a bit early, because he’s feeling at the moment that to establish himself at Manchester United is a big challenge.”
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