Gareth Southgate has a variety of options to choose from in the attacking areas, and Alli’s injury issues over the summer, combined with a slow start to the season, have seen him overlooked once more.
The 23-year-old was omitted from the national team squads in September and October too, with his last call-up being for the Nations League semi-finals and third-place games, back at the end of last season.
After featuring infrequently at club level at the beginning of this campaign, he has won a spot back in the team and scored against Watford and Everton in the Premier League over the last couple of weeks.
England boss Southgate noted Alli’s improvement, but pointed to the strength in depth at his disposal in that area of the pitch and explained how the squad is selected based on consistency and productivity.
“Dele’s back, he’s on a better path in the last couple of games, for sure,” he said.
“But within those No. 8 positions, [Ross] Barkley has played very well for us over the last 12 months, is now scoring for Chelsea and is playing in that position very well.
“[Leicester’s James] Maddison is probably in that sort of area of the pitch, if we’re looking at how we want to play. [Liverpool’s Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain [is] playing exceptionally well and has the athleticism and speed that’s different to all of those others.
“It’s just a consequence of the competition for places. We watch every game. We think we’ve got a very, very good picture of all of the players and exactly what they’ve done in every game and we can only pick honestly on what we’ve seen.”
Southgate also revealed he had maintained an open dialogue with Dele Alli as he searched for an England recall, just as had been the case with defender Michael Keane this time around
And, as with Jamie Vardy, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and any other player hoping to win a spot in future, the door remains open for involvement depending on performance levels ahead of Euro 2020.
“I spoke to Dele in the two previous months and there are only so many times they’re going to want to have that conversation really.
“Whenever I don’t select a player who has been with us for a period [of time], I always talk them through the rationale of the initial decision and then try to pick it up as we go through.
“Because I think they need feedback - it’s important for players. I’ve done that with Michael Keane this time because they want to go away and improve and try to get back in the squad. And all of those guys are capable of getting back in the squad.”
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