Everton’s Michael Keane has revealed that he called Gareth Southgate for crunch talks over his international future after being shocked to find out he’d been axed from the last England squad.
Despite enjoying an impressive season at club level with Everton, Keane was surprised to be omitted from the Three Lions party for their trio of World Cup qualifiers in March.
Keane said: “I was surprised that I wasn’t in it. I was in a lot of squads before that and I was playing really well up until that point.
“I think I’ve been in England squads before when I’ve not been playing as well as I had been at that point.
“I was surprised. Also I didn’t get told about it and found out when it got announced on Sky.”
After being dropped, Keane decided to call Southgate to ask for an explanation of the decision.
He said: “I called him (Southgate) the night it was announced. I managed to speak to him then.
“I had a conversation with him. Obviously I’m going to keep (the content of) that between ourselves.”
Asked if he received a satisfactory answer from Southgate to his questions, Keane adds that there were “a few bits” and said: “There were obviously things I didn’t agree with and I think that’s normal when I’ve not been picked, I’m going to be frustrated.
“I know what I need to work on, what I need to do to get myself back in it.
“That’s the main thing that I got out of the call. I know the door is still open so I’ll have to see what happens.
“I think it’s good to have open, honest conversations with your manager sometimes to see where you can improve and do better.
“I think he appreciated me giving him a call as well.
“I think it was definitely worthwhile for me getting clarity and I knew what I had to do.”
With the European Championships on the horizon, Keane hopes that his actions showed the England manager his determination to represent his country at a major tournament.
He said: “I think even if it’s not an easy conversation for him to have, he can see it’s coming from a good place because he can see that I was disappointed not to be in the squad and I really want to be in it.
“I think he fully understood that and I think he probably went through the same as a player at some point so it’s just something that you have to do as a manager.
“I think it’s something he does appreciate as a manager and he understands the frustration when you’re not picked and he’s very reasonable with what he’s got to say.”
Keane revealed that he has also received support from his Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti in his quest to get to the Euros.
He said: “Carlo told me he was confident I’d get back in it and to keep doing what I was doing.
“He said at the time he was still confident that I’d go to the Euros.
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“I just got my head down, worked hard with Everton and I’ve just carry on now and finish the season strongly and hopefully Carlo is right and I can get back in it.”
Keane of course isn’t the only Everton defender in contention for a place in Southgate’s squad with Ben Godfrey having enjoying an impressive debut season at Goodison Park following his switch from Norwich City.
Some five years his junior at 23 compared to 28, Keane, who has represented England 12 times, has backed the uncapped Godfrey for a first international call-up.
He said: “Ben has been really good. He’s played in a lot of positions, never moans about it and always does really well wherever he plays.
“He’s been great at centre-half, he’s always willing to learn and is obviously still young for a centre-back.
“He’s got all the attributes, he’s really fast, has got a good spring and he’s good on the ball so he’s got everything he needs to be a top centre-half.
“We speak about it (England call ups) a bit, we know we have to keep our heads down, keep playing well and see what happens.
“Obviously I’ve had a bit of experience with England and Ben hasn’t yet so he’s hoping for his first call-up that I think he probably deserves – well he does deserve – and I want to get back in there.”