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Men's Football England must take Eberechi Eze to Euro 2024, Jean-Philippe Mateta says

CYRSTAL PALACE striker Jean-Philippe Mateta insists team-mate Eberechi Eze is the spark England need if they want to succeed at this summer’s Euros.

Gareth Southgate is set to name his preliminary squad for England’s pre-tournament friendlies tomorrow and in-form Eze will hope his brace in the Eagles’ 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa will have given the national team boss another convincing reason to issue him a ticket to Germany.

The 25-year-old concluded an injury-plagued campaign in style, netting five times and adding two assists in his final six appearance as Palace equalled both their best-ever Premier League 10th-place finish and 49-point tally.

Mateta, who on Sunday became the first Palace player to score a Premier League hat-trick at Selhurst Park and the top flight’s most prolific goalscorer since February 24, told Sky Sports: “(Southgate) has to call him. He has to, if you want to win something.”

Eze himself was more diplomatic when asked about the tournament, saying: “I’m just here, man, just trying to enjoy it, playing football.

“If I get called, then so be it.”

Eze is among a trio of Palace players who could make the plane, with Dean Henderson hoping to replace injured clubmate Sam Johnstone as England’s third-choice keeper and defender Marc Guehi back in contention after returning to Oliver Glasner’s starting XI on Sunday for the first time since early February.

Eagles midfielder Adam Wharton, who has exceeded expectations since joining Palace from Blackburn in January, has also received backing from some corners as a wildcard contender.

Boss Oliver Glasner deferred to the England manager, but said: “Of course when they are nominated we wish all of our players the best.

“The players did what they can do, and now it’s up to Gareth Southgate. We have several players who could be nominated and then we will see.

“I don’t give any advice to any national team manager. I know my players, all of them with the performances in the last weeks, since we (arrived) here, deserve to be nominated for the national team, but I don’t know all the other players.

“It’s Southgate’s job to find the right one, it’s not my job, so on Tuesday I would like to be at home. I would like to be on the terrace but it is raining at home, so I’ll read what happens.”

Villa boss Unai Emery fielded a depleted squad that, after the high of clinching Champions League football earlier in the week, struggled to rise to whatever sense of occasion could reasonably be summoned for a contest that had little in it for the visitors, no matter the outcome.

While he danced around a question about how much financial backing the club has promised for improvements, Emery said: “We have to decide about how we are going to build the squad again, and now we are going to decide how we can get stronger.

“But of course (we) believe in how we are building the team, how we are doing our process, but the next step ahead is always trying to improve.”

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