Tomori back in England squad after strong displays for Milan

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LONDON (AP) — Canadian-born Fikayo Tomori earned a recall to England's squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary, with coach Gareth Southgate saying on Thursday the centre back has been rewarded for impressive performances in high-pressure games for AC Milan.

The 23-year-old Tomori joined Milan on a permanent basis from Chelsea in June after a spell on loan at the Italian club in the second half of last season.

With Harry Maguire sidelined because of a calf injury, Tomori is back in the England squad as one of four center backs and could earn his second senior cap for his country — after making his debut in November 2019 against Kosovo in a European Championship qualifier.

He left Chelsea because he was behind experienced players like Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta.

Southgate said he has been tracking Tomori and liked his recent displays against both Liverpool in the Champions League and Juventus in Serie A, in particular.

“He’s playing at a club where there’s an expectation to win every week, so he’s performing under pressure," Southgate said.

“I like Fikayo in terms of his aggressiveness as a defender. Because he’s got speed he’s confident enough to defend on the front foot and his use of the ball is improving all the time.”

Eligible to play for Canada, England and Nigeria, Tomori represented both Canada and England at the youth level but set his sights on the Three Lions. He made his England senior debut in November 2019, coming off the bench in a 4-0 win over Kosovo in Euro 2020 qualifying.

While born in Calgary to Nigerian parents, Tomori was less than a year old when his family left for London, England. He joined Chelsea as an under-eight player.

Tomori turned heads when he attended Canadian youth camps in 2015 and '16 in Mexico and England, respectively. In March 2016, the 18-year-old Tomori captained a Canadian under-20 team that included a 15-year old Alphonso Davies and 16-year-old Ballou Tabla in a memorable 2-1 win over an England under-20 side that featured Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford.

Tomori went on to play for England at the under-20 and -21 levels. He has had loan spells at Brighton, Hull and Derby.

Ollie Watkins returned for the first time since being cut from the provisional Euro 2020 squad and uncapped goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was back having been brought into the squad that reached the final following an injury to Dean Henderson.

Right back Trent Alexander-Arnold and striker Patrick Bamford joined Maguire in dropping out of the squad through injury while teenage talents Mason Greenwood and Jude Bellingham also missed out because Southgate wants to manage their workloads.

Phil Foden was recalled after missing games in September because of a foot complaint.

England is top of its qualifying group after five wins and a draw, four points clear of second-placed Albania.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal).

Defenders: Conor Coady (Wolverhampton), Reece James (Chelsea), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham).

Forwards: Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Associated Press

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