England

Gareth Southgate impressed with Emile Smith Rowe in England training

Tom Gott
Smith Rowe with Kalvin Phillips in England training
Smith Rowe with Kalvin Phillips in England training / Michael Regan/GettyImages
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England boss Gareth Southgate has confessed he has been impressed with Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe's first training sessions with the Three Lions.

Smith Rowe did not make the initial squad for the final round of World Cup qualifiers but was given the nod following the withdrawal of Marcus Rashford, who has been battling an illness.

Southgate has not revealed whether or not Smith Rowe will feature against Albania on Friday, but speaking to the media ahead of the match he made no secret of just how much he has enjoyed working with the Arsenal starlet already.

"We have brought him to be involved with the team in the two matches," Southgate said. "He has settled really well.

"He obviously knows a couple of his club teammates and Phil [Foden] from the U17s. This is a group that makes new players very welcome so it's not a difficult environment to settle in and his quality has been apparent from the way he has trained.

"We have always worked on the basis that we need a strong squad because you will get injuries. We have depth and we have players who have been waiting for opportunities to play."

Southgate also admitted that Smith Rowe was unfortunate not to be part of his initial squad, adding:  "Whenever players are here training, it's an opportunity to transfer across. That's what we want, that type of club environment where there is an actual progression.

"Emile was close to being in the original squad when we announced it so we had no hesitation in moving him across [from the Under-21s]."

An England appearance would cap off a whirlwind 12 months for Smith Rowe, who was not even a regular at club level until Boxing Day of 2020.

He has since broken the 50-appearance mark for Arsenal, chipping in this season with an impressive return of five goals and two assists in 13 outings.

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