Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling has not featured for England in 2023 and is at risk of not making Gareth Southgate's squad for Euro 2024. Hannah McKay/Reuters

England boss Gareth Southgate announced his latest squad on Thursday for the nation's upcoming UEFA European Championship 2024 qualifiers this month against Malta and North Macedonia.

Having already secured qualification for Euro 2024 after beating Italy in October's qualifier, Southgate will be able to experiment with different personnel and tactics for the upcoming games.

The main talking point from Southgate's squad selection was the continued absence of Chelsea forward, Raheem Sterling. After not having a great first season at Chelsea, Sterling has found his best form again at club level and has looked sharp for Chelsea this season despite some of the club's struggles.

Sterling last featured for England at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last year, when he came on as a substitute for the remaining minutes of England's quarter-final defeat to France. At 28, Sterling has amassed an impressive 82 caps for his country, having made his debut as a 17-year-old, and he has scored 20 goals for the Three Lions.

The forward has been one of Southgate's most relied upon players over recent years as he featured heavily at the 2018 World Cup when England reached the semi-finals, and was crucial at the 2021 European Championships, where he scored three goals in England's run to the final.

Many believed Sterling had done enough to earn a recall to the England squad, but it appears he still has work to do in order to represent his country again and make the final squad for next summer's European Championships in Germany. Sterling has been included in the squads for England's last five major tournament appearances.

At a press conference for the squad announcement on Thursday, Southgate was asked about Sterling's absence from his squad. The England boss responded, saying: "The door is 100 per cent open not only for Raheem but for other players. He is a crucial part of why we've had the journey we've had over the last few years."

The England manager added: "He wasn't available in March or June and the team started on a good run. The two performances in June were excellent, so we stuck with that group. There is no question Raheem is looking dangerous for his club, he looks invigorated since the start of the season."

Sterling faces a race against time to make the squad for next summer's European Championships as these upcoming games against Malta and North Macedonia are the last games England will play in 2023.

The next time England are in action after that will be in March of next year, when they will face Brazil and Belgium in friendlies. This will be the last time Sterling or any other players on the outskirts of Southgate's squad will get to make an impression for the Three Lions before the squad for Euro 2024 gets announced ahead of the tournament starting in June.

Sterling is set to next be in action this Sunday, when Chelsea takes on his former side, Manchester City, at Stamford Bridge.

Other notable players to be omitted from England's latest squad include Arsenal's Ben White and Eddie Nketiah, Crystal Palace's Eberechi Eze, Newcastle United's Anthony Gordon and West Ham United's James Ward-Prowse. Sterling's Chelsea teammate, Reece James, turned down a call-up to the squad as the right-back has only recently overcome a hamstring injury.

Manchester City's John Stones was unavailable for selection after he picked up a muscular injury in his side's UEFA Champions League win over Young Boys earlier in the week.

Newcastle's Callum Wilson did earn a recall to the England squad but there are question marks over what his availability will be for the games against Malta and North Macedonia as the striker suffered a tight hamstring in his side's midweek defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

In a major blow to Southgate, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder James Maddison has had to pull out of the squad due to an ankle problem which forced him off the pitch in his side's defeat to Chelsea. Maddison's injury is set to keep him out of action until the new year.