Paul Merson has labelled Gareth Southgate “ridiculous” for not choosing West Ham’s James Ward-Prowse.

There was one thing Gareth Southgate promised when becoming England manager, that was picking players based on form. “I can’t pick stars who don’t play,” he stated towards the beginning of his tenure,

Unfortunately, Southgate hasn’t been true to his word when it comes to this, opting to pick players like Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips who barely play for their clubs and, when they do, perform poorly. He claims it’s “impossible” to only pick players who play consistently but, to put it bluntly, that’s just not true.

When you’ve got midfielders like James Ward-Prowse not being selected, it makes it seem like the England manager doesn’t really have an excuse to be picking the players he is. 

Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has been extremely outspoken about Southgate’s decisions. “When the squad came out,” he began, “Trent Alexander-Arnold was one of the midfielders. If you’re James Ward-Prowse, you’re thinking: ‘I’m never playing for England.’”

“You’ve got someone [Jordan Henderson] who’s playing in the Saudi league in front of 6,000 people every week and then you’ve got Ward-Prowse, who’s playing very well for West Ham.”

He says that West Ham’s number 7 has been “one of the game changers but he doesn’t get a look in.” Adding that “it’s ridiculous” that James wasn’t selected in midfield.

“And what about Kalvin Phillips?” Merson asked rhetorically. “He doesn’t play football.”

Undoubtedly, Southgate has done a good job with England (arguably not great considering the talent he has at his disposal) but by far his biggest let down is his squad selection. It feels like everytime he chooses the players you know multiple players are going to be robbed of a place the deserve.

Jarrod Bowen is another West Ham player who you could argue deserves a place in the set up, he’s been one of the most in-form wingers in the Premier League yet Gareth doesn’t select him.

It won’t come as a surprise that there’s rumours that, no matter how well The Three Lions do, the Euros next year will be his last competition in charge of his nation. He has come so close to creating history, but if he’s to do that on his final attempt he’s going to need to wise up and start doing what’s best for his country rather than the players he favours.

By Charlie Bass