The World Cup final takes place one year today, and England will be in it. Here are six outsiders to make Gareth Southgate’s squad, assuming he is in charge and we make it…
Demarai Gray (Leicester City) – 10/1
After Harry Kane, the next eight strikers sorted according to their odds are Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy, Danny Welbeck, Jermain Defoe, Daniel Sturridge, Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll. I can see at least one problem with each of those, and when Vardy is the third favourite I think it’s worth looking elsewhere.
One option is to go for a wildcard striker (Tammy Abraham is 10/1), but I think the better ploy is to assume that Southgate will add an extra wide forward. With that in mind, Gray looks an excellent pick at 10/1. He has already been told that he can expect far more minutes for Leicester this season after impressing at the European U21 Championship, and that presumes that interest from Tottenham comes to nothing.
Alfie Mawson (Swansea City) – 16/1
Impressed in England’s Under-21 campaign at the European Championship, Mawson now seems to have a tremendous amount of goodwill from those in the game. He might not be the cultured passing central defender that Southgate would like, and is the clear outsider of this field at 16/1, but that price could look big if Mawson starts next season well. And then there are the links to Tottenham…
Tom Davies (Everton) – 6/1
The breakout star of 2016/17, it seems a bloody shame that Everton requested that Davies was left out of all England underage tournaments this summer. Of course players need a rest, but Davies could have played a part of the ongoing Under-19 or June’s Under-21 European Championships.
As it is, Davies will face a battle on two fronts this season. Everton have added significant numbers to their midfield, with Davy Klaassen and Wayne Rooney both likely to play there, and Davies must push to continue his regular Premier League appearances at the age of 19. Should he do so, it would be foolish not to at least fast-track him into the Under-21 squad. From then on, why not the seniors?
Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford) – 8/1
Chalobah might as well have been 100/1 had he stayed at Chelsea this season, given infrequent minutes in the Premier League and the odd start in the EFL Cup. Instead he’s moved to Watford, where he can hope to start almost every game in a team likely fighting for their lives in the bottom half.
That’s interesting for two reasons:
1) Gareth Southgate knows and likes Chalobah from his Under-21 days, which gives him a VIP pass.
2) Jake Livermore was in the last England squad.
Kieran Trippier (Tottenham) – 3/1
The best shout of the lot, at least according to the price. Trippier was named in England’s last squad, started England’s last game and has now become first choice at his club following the sale of Kyle Walker for all the money.
England took two right-backs to Euro 2016 and may continue to break tradition next summer, meaning that Walker, Trippier and Nathaniel Clyne could well be fighting for two spots in the squad. Now with the chance to really show he deserves his place at a top-four club, I can’t ignore Trippier at 3/1 when Clyne is 1/5 in places.
Nathan Redmond (Southampton) 4/1
Was in England’s squad for two of their games in 2017, and played against Germany in March. That indicates that Redmond is already in Southgate’s thinking after being useful during his Under-21 reign. If Redmond excels under Mauricio Pellegrino at Southampton, he has to have a chance over Jesse Lingard and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, both of whom were named in England’s last squad.