Manchester United defender Luke Shaw has been included in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man England squad for September’s fixtures against Spain and Switzerland.
Shaw, 23, last played for England in March 2017, as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 friendly defeat by Germany.
Liverpool pair Joe Gomez and Adam Lallana, and Burnley’s James Tarkowski are also included in Southgate’s first post-World Cup squad.
“Luke has always been a player we have liked,” said Southgate.
Shaw endured a tough 2017-18 season, facing public criticism from United manager Jose Mourinho, who questioned his approach to training and commitment to the club.
But the former Southampton player, who has seven international caps, has enjoyed a strong start to the new Premier League season, scoring his first senior goal against Leicester City this month.
“He’s had a difficult period in terms of adapting to a new club and a horrendous injury that he had to overcome,” Southgate added.
“I’m really impressed with his physical condition. He’s shown an extra edge to his game in the last couple of games. He’s shown aggression and a desire not to lose, and is looking back to his powerful best.”
England open their Uefa Nations League campaign against Spain at Wembley on 8 September, before facing Switzerland three days later in Leicester for a Kick It Out international friendly.
Shaw’s United team-mate Ashley Young, who helped England reach the World Cup semi-finals, has been left out of the squad, as has Phil Jones, who is injured.
“I want us to try and capture what we had this summer,” said Southgate.
“Once we’re through this camp, there’s going to be competition from others. People are going to have to play at a good level to retain their places.”
Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy has been called up to replace the injured Nick Pope, joining Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Stoke’s Jack Butland as one of three goalkeepers in the squad.
But Southgate says he would like “more competition” for the position – especially with Butland now playing in the Championship.
“There are four or five maximum still playing in the Premier League – obviously Jack [Butland] has dropped into the Championship and he’s now going to have a challenge to stay in the squad,” he said.
“It’s an area where we’d like more competition.”
He added that the door was still open for Burnley goalkeeper Joe Hart – who has 75 England caps but has not played for his country since November 2017 – but said it was “too early” after his omission from the World Cup squad.
“Joe is somebody who we know about,” he said.
“We know what he can do and having got so close to the World Cup it’s a bit early to bring him back into the fold.”
‘Our pool is getting smaller and smaller’
Southgate has made no secret of his desire to include more youth in his England squads, but said young players were not getting enough first-team football at club level for them to be called up to the national side.
“One of our biggest concerns is playing time for English players. More concerning, young players that may be coming through to challenge are not getting opportunities to play,” he said.
He added work needed to be done on providing better pathways for young players in the Premier League, admitting he may have to start looking at players in the second tier.
“There is still this link between 17 to 21 where the bridge into first-team football and the financial power of the Premier League has a big impact,” he said.
“I think it’s worth us having that debate and getting people around the table to discuss that missing piece. If players are as good as any young players around the world then that opportunity needs to be there.
“If we are encouraging young players about entering academies we are selling them the dream and there’s an ethical element there too.
“I can’t rule out players in the Championship now as our pool is getting smaller and smaller.”
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Alex McCarthy (Southampton)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Leicester City) Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)
Chief football writer Phil McNulty
Gareth Southgate has resisted the temptation to inject the next generation into his squad. He has, however, still provided plenty of interest – including what some might even regard as a step into the past.
It is a sign of Southgate’s regard for Liverpool’s Adam Lallana that he gets a surprise recall despite being marginalised at Liverpool and not having made a start in the Premier League so far this season.
Lallana, who did not make the World Cup squad for Russia and last played for England in June 2017, looked to have been consigned to England’s past but has now been handed an unlikely lifeline.
The selection of his Liverpool team-mate Joe Gomez comes as no surprise given his form alongside Virgil van Dijk in a defence that has yet to concede a Premier League goal this season.
He is the beneficiary of Gary Cahill’s decision to retire and Southgate will have welcomed the chance to bring back the 21-year-old, who looked so comfortable in an England shirt before sustaining an ankle injury against the Netherlands in March that eventually kept him out of the World Cup.
Luke Shaw’s many admirers will be delighted to see his renaissance at Manchester United rewarded with a return to England colours, and with United team-mate Ashley Young’s exclusion surely marking the end of his England career, Shaw has a real opportunity to make his mark.
There will be an element of disappointment that Southgate has not trusted more to youth in the shape of teenagers Phil Foden of Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Fulham’s outstanding youngster Ryan Sessegnon.
Southgate, though, will rightly say he is justified in showing loyalty to players who served him so well as England reached the World Cup semi-final – and time is very much on the side of that gifted young trio.