Sancho (left) and Rashford have been left out by England. PA

Sancho and Rashford dropped as Southgate calls for consistency

The England boss has kept faith with Manchester United captain Harry Maguire, insisting the defender is crucial to his side.

ENGLAND MANAGER GARETH Southgate left the door open for returns for Manchester United duo Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford after they were left out of his latest squad.

The pair seemingly paid the price for United’s poor run of form, despite Sancho’s personal performances showing a marked improvement in recent weeks.

Along with Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker, the three players were conspicuous by their absence from Southgate’s 25-man squad for the upcoming Wembley friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast.

Rashford has been struggling of late and issued a statement on social media after an altercation with United fans following the 1-0 Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night.

christmas-package-2021 Sancho and Rashford are out while Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka are included. PA PA

“He’s in the same position as everybody else,” Southgate said when asked whether Rashford has a lot to prove.

“Whether they’re in the squad or not in the squad, they’ve all got to play well over the end of this season and particularly the beginning of next season.

“It’s a difficult time for him, he’s clearly not at his best. We know a lot about Marcus anyway and what he can bring to us. And hopefully he rediscovers that form that we know he’s capable of.”

Both Rashford and Sancho missed from the spot in the penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final last summer.

Sancho has just started reaching the sort of levels which prompted United to spend £73million on the forward but has also been overlooked by Southgate this time around.

san-marino-v-england-fifa-world-cup-2022-european-qualifying-group-i-san-marino-stadium England manager Gareth Southgate. PA PA

“The other attacking players in the squad are slightly ahead of him at the moment,” explained the Three Lions boss.

“You can see the names – (Phil) Foden, (Raheem) Sterling, (Bukayo) Saka, (Emile) Smith Rowe.

If you look at the seasons they’ve had, Jadon, over the last few weeks his performances have without doubt improved at Manchester United but it’s an area of the field where we’ve got really big competition for places and at the moment we’ve got those guys slightly ahead.”

While Rashford and Sancho missed out, there was still a place in the squad for United captain Harry Maguire.

The centre-back has faced stinging criticism for his performances this season but Southgate remains a staunch advocate of Maguire’s ability.

“I don’t think it ever crossed their mind not to select Harry Maguire for this squad,” he said.

“He’s been a key part of the starting XI that got us to a World Cup semi-final and a European Championship final.

manchester-united-v-atletico-madrid-uefa-champions-league-round-of-sixteen-second-leg-old-trafford Manchester United captain Harry Maguire. PA PA

“So I know the club are going through a difficult period but you’ve got to look at who are our best players in the core of the team and he’s in that group.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s one of our best centre-backs and form, in that sense, is temporary.

“In our forward areas, there’s perhaps a lot more competition for some of those wide places. So I will always be accused of double standards on picking on form but there are nuances to that.”

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