Jesse Lingard, Luke Shaw and John Stones back in England squad for World Cup triple-header

Manager Southgate recalls trio after long absence from squad while Villa striker Watkins is chosen ahead of Leeds attacker Bamford

England's midfielder Jesse Lingard celebrates his goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group G football match between England and Panama at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24, 2018. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS
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England have recalled on-loan West Ham United midfielder Jesse Lingard and also named Aston Villa forward Ollie Watkins in their 26-man squad for this month's World Cup qualifying matches against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

Lingard, who has 24 caps but has not featured since 2019, has been one of West Ham's standout players since arriving from Manchester United on loan in January, with four goals and two assists in six matches.

Watkins was rewarded with his first senior call-up for an impressive campaign in which he has scored 10 goals in 27 Premier League matches for Villa.

Leeds striker Patrick Bamford had been widely tipped for a call-up but Southgate has turned to Watkins, who joined the Midlands club from second-tier Brentford in the summer.

West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has also been called-up for the first time, following an injury to Everton and England No 1 Jordan Pickford, after shining for the struggling Baggies who sit second bottom of the league.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is a surprise absence from a squad that also sees Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw and Manchester City centre-half John Stones return after long absences.

Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham has been called up despite concerns over his availability.

The teenager's inclusion is interesting given the Football Association had expected regional coronavirus travel restrictions in Germany to rule him out. Bellingham's Dortmund teammate Jadon Sancho misses out through injury.

Villa's Jack Grealish, James Maddison of Leicester and Chelsea's Tammy Abraham are not included due to injuries.

England have not played since since their last triple-header in November when they beat Republic of Ireland 3-0 in a friendly, then lost to Belgium 2-0 and thrashed Iceland 4-0 in the Nations League.

Southgate said there had been some "close calls" when selecting his squad, including the decision to call up Watkins instead of Bamford.

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"[Bamford was] very close," Southgate told Sky Sports. "There's a number of positions in this squad that have been really close calls and we felt we wanted an extra striker.

"We're really pleased with Harry [Kane] and [Dominic] Calvert-Lewin and what they've done. Tammy Abraham hasn't really been involved for Chelsea over the last four to six weeks.

"And both Ollie and Patrick in particular, their goals record has been good. We like the personalities of both. Ollie is a player we've had less interaction with in the past. It's going to be good to get to know him.

"We like his pressing, the speed and the runs in behind. He's got some improvement to make in linking the game, but in his first season in the Premier League at a big club, he's done exceptionally well.

"That's been a really close call because all the things I've said about Ollie I could have said for Patrick as well, so he's very unfortunate."

As for Lingard's recall, Southgate added: "We have injuries in attacking areas which have opened up an opportunity for Jesse. I have to say his performances for West Ham have been excellent. We know he can perform at the level."

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