ENGLAND boss Gareth Southgate said his midfield is ‘a difficult balance’ after leaving  James Ward-Prowse out of his latest England squad.

Ward-Prowse put himself in serious contention to add to his one cap with his recent performances.

The six goals he has scored in his last nine games include stunning free-kicks against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

But he has been omitted, with Southgate preferring the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and West Ham’s uncapped rising star Declan Rice in a 25-man squad for the opening two games of England’s Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

Southgate said: “We love Prowsey, I have been accused of being father of Prowsey over the years.

“This most recent spell is his best since we capped him before, he is a world class deliverer of set-plays. 

“He has only recently got back into the team at Southampton

“Our midfield is a difficult balance, four months on from our last game you could say that Delph isn’t playing for Man City but he was our best player against Croatia.”

Ward-Prowse, 24, has not played for England since his debut as a late substitute in a 1-0 defeat away to Germany two years ago.

Rice, as expected, is the headline inclusion for the Group A double-header against the Czech Republic at Wembley on March 22 and Montenegro in Podgorica a week on Monday.

He appeared for the Republic of Ireland’s youth teams and won three senior caps in friendlies, before FIFA last week ratified his switch to England.

But Ward-Prowse has been given hope of a call-up in the event of injury.

Southgate added: “We know that there are some players just on the fringes that we would never hesitate to call in, both in terms of their ability but also in the case of James Ward-Prowse, his character as well. He is absolutely the sort of character you want around the squad.”

Southgate has kept faith with Kieran Trippier, while James Tarkowski and Harry Maguire return to the squad as Lewis Dunk and the injured Joe Gomez dropped out. Harry Winks and Jesse Lingard were not risked due to injury, but Callum Wilson has been included again.

 Tom Heaton, Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford.
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Michael Keane, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, James Tarkowski.
Midfielders: Ross Barkley, Dele Alli, Fabian Delph, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Declan Rice.
Forwards: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Callum Wilson