Nigeria’s quest to persuade both Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori to switch to Nigeria after both players had played age grade tournaments for England and Canada appears to have ended as the duo were listed in the Three Lions’ squad to face Czech Republic and Bulgaria in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
England Manager, Gareth Southgate, however left out Nigeria-born Dele Alli and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard in the squad for the away trips to the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
Abraham, 22, had said he had “not made a decision yet” on his international future as he is also eligible to play for Nigeria, having only played for England in two friendlies and not a competitive game.
Tomori’s invitation is the first for him to the English senior national team.
If Abraham plays against either the Czechs or Bulgaria, he will not be able to switch allegiance, while the same also applies to Tomori who played for Canada at Under-20 level.
“It’s not ethically right to give someone a cap just so they can’t play for someone else,” Southgate observed in apparent reaction to criticism that England was bent on denying Nigeria the use of the two players.
“He (Abraham) and Fikayo Tomori are both in on merit and have been part of our junior system right the way through, so we see them as English players and they have a huge desire to play for England at senior level.”
Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker has again been omitted.
England is to play the Czechs on 11 October and Bulgaria on 14 October.
Everton midfielder Fabian Delph has been recalled, but Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain misses out.
Injured Manchester United right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also not included.
“There have been some difficult decisions to make,” said Southgate. “It’s an exciting squad, with players very much in form.
“There’s still an emphasis on the development of younger players but surrounded by good experience.”
Addressing his decision to leave out Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alli and Lingard, Southgate said: “Alex has only had a couple of games. It’s a bit like Dele – their seasons haven’t really got going.
“I think Jesse has had a difficult time too. As an attacking midfielder, you are going to be judged on your goals and assists. The competition is a lot higher than it was 18 months ago. Jesse is another player who can get himself back in the squad.
“All of those players will recognise why I’ve made these decisions.”
Abraham has netted eight goals in 10 games in all competitions for Chelsea so far this season and is joint second in the Premier League’s top-scorers’ chart.
“It was a fairly easy decision (to pick him) as he’s the leading English goal-scorer in the league,” said Southgate.
Abraham played for England in friendly draws with Germany and Brazil in 2017, and was part of the England Under-21 squad at the European Championship this summer.
“We put him into the squad very young, when we were changing the complexion of what we were doing,” added Southgate.
“That was a bit early for him but because of the opportunity given to him by Frank Lampard at Chelsea, we’ve brought him back in.
“This is now a great chance for Tammy.”
Goalkeepers: Tom Heaton (Aston Villa), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Harry Winks (Tottenham)
Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)