GARETH Southgate admits it was particularly difficult to leave Jesse Lingard out of his final England squad for Euro 2020.

The Warrington-born midfielder has sparkled since joining West Ham United on loan in January, scoring nine goals in 16 appearances for the Hammers.

That form led to a recall to the England set-up but having been included in an extended 33-man squad for the championships last week, the former William Beamont High School pupil is one of seven players cut from the group.

He joins Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse, Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins and uncapped trio Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White and Ben Godfrey in not making the final squad while Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood withdrew through injury.

Lingard will remain with the squad for the next week, however, and is set to start the pre-tournament friendly with Austria in Middlesbrough tonight.

"For me personally, it was very difficult to speak to Jesse, who has given so much to England, has performed so well for England over a long period of time, James Ward-Prowse who has been captain of the Under-21s and then Ollie Watkins, who had a tremendous season with Aston Villa,” Southgate said.

"Those three, I gave them the option of going home if they wanted to but they were all adamant they would want to stay and be a part of the group.

"They know that they will be involved in these two matches – I think Jesse will probably start tomorrow.

"Their commitment has been exemplary and their professionalism has been brilliant and meant that yesterday afternoon when I had the conversations with those players.

“Although they were disappointed, they knew where they stood and it has meant the atmosphere around the camp has stayed positive and very relaxed."