Southgate Explains Everton Star Godfrey's England Selection

Gareth Southgate is looking forward to working at close quarters with “exciting young defender” Ben Godfrey after naming the Everton player in a provisional England squad for this summer’s European Championship.

Godfrey was rewarded for a fabulous debut season with Everton when he received his first senior international call-up on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old is in a 33-strong party, with manager Southgate set to confirm his final 26-man group on 1 June.

Godfrey made his first Everton appearance as an early substitute in October’s Merseyside derby, a fortnight after completing a transfer from Norwich City.

A centre-half by choice, he went on at right-back against Liverpool and soon established a regular starting spot on the left of defence.

Godfrey moved to his favoured position for a victory at Leeds United in early February and, with the odd exception, has remained in the middle of defence since.

England manager Southgate has a surplus of options at centre-back and revealed Godfrey and fellow uncapped defender Ben White from Brighton & Hove Albion fended off significant competition to claim squad berths.

“They are both exciting young defenders,” said Southgate.

“There are others we have been looking at who we really like. Ezri Konsa had a good season at Aston Villa and Fikayo [Tomori] has done well at Milan [where he was on loan from Chelsea].

“These two [Godfrey and White] are flexible, they play in different roles and can play left and right.

“This is a great opportunity for us to know them a bit better and for them to work with the team.

“It works for everybody.”

Southgate, who announced former Everton assistant manager Graeme Jones will join his coaching staff for the European Championship beginning next month, abandoned original plans to finalise his squad this week.

He has 12 players due to compete in European club finals for Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City in the next four days, with England due to start tournament preparations from Saturday.

England have friendlies against Austria and Romania on 2 and 6 June, respectively, raising the possibility of players not in the trimmed-down squad featuring in one or both of those games.

Southgate, whose side start their bid to win England's first major competition since 1966 when they face Croatia at Wembley on 13 June, was reluctant to disclose what he’d told Godfrey when informing the player of his selection.

But he did confirm no decision had been made on the former England Under-21 captain’s tournament involvement.

“The private conversations I’ve had with players, I am not going to go into too much,” added Southgate, who included the Everton pair of Jordan Pickford and Dominic Calvert-Lewin in his extended squad.

“There is no way of knowing how long they [Godfrey and White] will be with us at this stage but it should be a fantastic experience for all of them [players in provisional party].

"It's still early for centre-backs of Ben White’s age (23), and Ben Godfrey, they tend to mature later. We think it's a good opportunity for them to come and work with us.”