Gareth Southgate explains decision to snub Mason Greenwood from England squad

Gareth Southgate has backed Mason Greenwood to overcome the disappointment of being left out of the latest England squad.

Greenwood, 18, has not been recalled to the Three Lions squad, although Southgate has decided to bring back Phil Foden.

The duo were kicked out of the England camp in September and flown home in shame for a serious breach of the rules, after getting caught smuggling women into the team hotel in Reykjavik.

Both were axed for the three England games last month as punishment.

Southgate has decided not to pick Greenwood, but has told the Manchester United teenager there is nothing sinister about his decision.

He said: "We've got huge belief in him as a young player. This might be a small disappointment for him, but there is a huge amount of time ahead of him.

"He's an outstanding finisher. This is an incredibly long season and he will be resilient enough, he's at a club that deals with young players very well. I've spoken with Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer) this week and we want him to be the best player he can be."

Southgate, who has named a 29-man squad for the games against the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland, has backed Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford following one of the worst periods of his career.

Pickford has received death threats on social media after injuring Liverpool rival Virgil Van Dijk in the recent Merseyside derby, and was then dropped for his side's game against Newcastle last week.

But Southgate insists he is still his No.1 and that neither Dean Henderson or Nick Pope are doing enough to challenge his place in the team.

He added: "When people say I've been loyal to him, he's deserved that because his performances have been excellent.

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"We have some competition for places, but there's nobody challenging him seriously at the moment to push him out of that position.

"I understand the passions when there is a local debry and it's not for me to get involved in what happens between sets of supporters, but any threatening behaviours or abuse for anyone is a concern, obviously and unacceptable."

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