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17th Mar 2017

Gareth Southgate reveals what Theo Walcott said when he cut him from the England squad

"He wasn't chuffed to bits to get the call and I understand that"

Robert Redmond

This isn’t the nicest phone call to receive on your birthday.

Gareth Southgate has explained why he omitted Theo Walcott from the England squad to play Germany and Lithuania, and revealed the reaction of the Arsenal winger when he told him he didn’t make the cut.

Walcott has eight goals in 48 games at international, and is one of the longest serving England players available to Southgate.

However, the new England manager has opted to leave out Walcott, and captain Wayne Rooney, from his latest squad, and the winger didn’t take the news well.

Southgate delivered the bad news on Walcott’s birthday.

“He wasn’t chuffed to bits to get the call and I understand that. I don’t expect him to be pleased,” Southgate told reporters on Thursday.

“He argued his case, quite rightly. He said, ‘I’m one of the leading goalscorers in the league’.

“I don’t mind being challenged at all. I totally respect that.

“But I’ve got to make decisions and it was the right thing to call him to talk that through, even though doing it on his birthday probably wasn’t great.”

Walcott has 15 goals in 28 appearances this season, with eight of those goals coming in the Premier League.

However, while he says the 28-year-old is still in his plans, Southgate claims he’s looking for something different from his wide players.

“With our wide players, the way we’re playing at the moment, we like to get the players between the lines slightly differently.

“Theo is more a player who runs in behind defences.”