'WORKING HARDER'

United winger Sancho keen to prove Southgate wrong

Players named in the 28-strong list are leading the way for the World Cup, but those left out have work to do between now and until the squad deadline on November 13.

In Summary

• “There were certain players we wanted to keep involved this time,” said Southgate on Thursday. “But that said it doesn’t mean that this is the end for some of the others who aren’t involved.”

• Sancho put United into an early lead in Moldova when he controlled Christian Eriksen’s pass, cut past a defender and fired a cool finish into the bottom corner.

Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho show a shinpad gifted by a young fan during Thursday's Europa League match against Sheriff Tiraspol
Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho show a shinpad gifted by a young fan during Thursday's Europa League match against Sheriff Tiraspol
Image: HANDOUT

Thursday’s England squad announcement was a significant one for those hoping to be on the plane to Qatar in just two months’ time.

Players named in the 28-strong list are leading the way for the World Cup, but those left out have work to do between now and until the squad deadline on November 13.

One of those up against it is Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho, who was once again omitted by England boss Gareth Southgate and earned the last of his 23 caps in October 2021.

“There were certain players we wanted to keep involved this time,” said Southgate on Thursday. “But that said it doesn’t mean that this is the end for some of the others who aren’t involved.”

But Sancho set about trying to prove Southgate wrong in perfect fashion just hours after the announcement, scoring the opening goal in United’s 2-0 Europa League victory at Sheriff Tiraspol.

“It is disappointing not to get a call-up but I have to keep working hard and hopefully I do get the call-up for the World Cup,” the 22-year-old said afterwards. I just have to focus on myself and carry on working hard.”

Sancho put United into an early lead in Moldova when he controlled Christian Eriksen’s pass, cut past a defender and fired a cool finish into the bottom corner.

The winger endured a difficult first campaign at Old Trafford following a £73m move from Borussia Dortmund last summer, but now looks to be turning the corner under new boss Erik ten Hag.

He has scored three goals in his last six appearances, as many as he had managed in his previous 24 games combined.

“I’m really pleased [for Jadon],” said Ten Hag. “Another goal, and he scored already many goals in his pre-season and he has three in the season. He is doing well.

“But I think there is much more room for improvement for him, because he has so many skills. Bring him on the pitch when he has that belief, and he can improve even more.”

Sancho’s tally this term is also better than some of his England peers who he is competing with for a place in the national team. Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka has found the net just once this term, while Manchester City’s Jack Grealish and Chelsea’s Mason Mount are yet to get off the mark.

Former United and England midfielder Paul Scholes said on BT Sport: “Gareth has picked his players for a reason, possibly from previous squads, but I think he deserves to be in over Jack Grealish at the moment.

“He is better coming inside, he doesn’t have that electrifying pace. If he can find players to link with, he could be a good player for United.”

Ex-United and England midfielder Owen Hargreaves added: “When you get a bit of bad news, he makes his own good news.

“The players want to be in the biggest games, there is a major tournament and he will be worried about that, but it is out of his hands. He is playing well this season, that’s all he can do.”

Meanwhile, Sancho might owe his latest goal to some ‘lucky’ new shinpads which were shown being gifted to him by a young fan on a video on social media.

Sancho explained to BT Sport afterwards: “He asked me to wear them and I said ‘yeah, no problem’. It was a little gesture from me to show I was wearing the shinpads he gave me.”

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