Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite and Newcastle winger Anthony Gordon received their first England caps on Thursday for the friendlies against Brazil and Belgium.

Liverpool’s Joe Gomez, Aston Villa defender Ezri Konsa and Brentford striker Ivan Toney also return to Gareth Southgate’s squad, with the chance to make a name for themselves in the build-up to Euro-2024.

Toney is being called up for the first time after serving an eight-month suspension for breaching betting regulations.

However, two regulars during Southgate’s reign, Kalvin Phillips and Raheem Sterling, were not included in the squad.

Southgate has revealed that Arsenal defender Ben White is out of the competition for England. White left the England squad midway through the 2022 World Cup for personal reasons and has not returned to the team.

“It’s a great shame for me” Southgate said of White, who signed a new four-year contract with Premier League leaders Arsenal on Thursday.

“I want that door to be wide open. He would be in this squad, but he’s not available to us and I have to concentrate on who can help us” explained the coach.

White’s absence opens the door to Branthwaite, who has impressed despite Everton’s difficulties this season. The 21-year-old has been linked with a big move to clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester United.

“He’s good on the ball, shows good composure, good mentality. He’s a left-footed defender, and we don’t have many left-footed defenders” said Southgate.

“He’s come in on merit and we’re looking forward to finding out more about him” added the manager.

Gordon is rewarded for his 10 goals for Newcastle this season, but faces strong competition in attack to reach Euro 2024. England host Brazil on 23 March, before taking on Belgium three days later at Wembley, in the last games before Southgate names his final squad for the tournament in Germany.

Southgate’s men, who were runners-up in the 2021 European Championship, are among the favourites to win this year’s tournament in Germany.

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