England Clamour Rankings: Anthony Gordon still top but Watkins emerges after Kane ‘barely moved’

England players generating some clamour.
England players generating some clamour.

That was properly dreadful from England against Denmark. Gareth Southgate has made no changes to his starting line-up yet and the Clamour is getting bigger.


5) Ollie Watkins
At no stage did anyone countenance much of a Clamour for any other striker while Harry Kane carried on for England. But that felt like a watershed moment for a previously untouchable captain.

Even with the goal, it was a miserable performance from the striker and most notably, something the pundits honed in on intensely. Gary Lineker said Kane “barely moved” and “does not press”, Micah Richards added that he “just needs to improve” his off-the-ball work and Rio Ferdinand laid into the Bayern Munich forward: “I would be going mad. I’d be screaming at him. I couldn’t have my centre forward not filling in with the workload the other players are putting. I need to see that intensity.”

There were calls for Kane to be substituted at half-time; Southgate taking him off with the scores level in the 70th minute was about as far as the manager was willing to go with his most trusted lieutenant but even that felt stark.

Watkins forced a save soon after coming on by actually running behind a fairly static defence, which he troubled a couple of times thereafter. He was not brilliant but he did move – and score 27 actual goals for Aston Villa this season – so there is a legitimate call to use him more, even if Southgate ‘refuses to play’ him.


4) Adam Wharton
‘With all the caveats of – I’m not watching training, I’ve never seen him play a full 90, he plays higher up the pitch than I thought and I’VE NEVER PLAYED THE GAME, I’d like Adam Wharton in,’ tweeted Max Rushden after the Serbia game in that terrifically clever manner that protects him against accusations that his instincts are unfounded while still voicing those largely unfounded instincts.

Wharton would be higher up this list if he had played more than 16 Premier League games and more than 28 minutes of international football, but there is still a sizeable Clamour building for his inclusion at the expense of Trent Alexander-Arnold, who looked uncomfortable in the first game and dreadful in the second in midfield because he is not a midfielder. Which seems important.

The truth? There is no perfect solution to that midfield problem. What is a manager meant to do without the brilliance of Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Henderson? And in the absence of a perfect solution, Southgate has so far opted for the best footballer – but not the best midfielder – available.


3) Kobbie Mainoo
A year younger than Wharton but with a whole 25 Premier League games (and one barnstorming FA Cup final display) under his belt, which is probably why he eventually came on for Jude Bellingham in the ‘seeing it out’ role against Serbia. Rio Ferdinand has said he should have come on earlier, presumably instead of the energetic but absolutely not composed Conor Gallagher.

There will always be a greater Clamour for players from well-supported clubs and it does feel rather odd that England started a major tournament without a Manchester United player. He does have a significant advantage over Alexander-Arnold in that he is actually a midfielder. Which seems important.

Oh and Mainoo was excellent alongside Declan Rice v Belgium in March, when we wrote: ‘Literally impossible to watch his interplay with Jude Bellingham and not get very giddy indeed.’

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2) Cole Palmer
‘I’m genuinely shocked we haven’t seen Cole Palmer grace the field yet,’ said Daniel Sturridge as the dust settled after the Denmark debacle.

Palmer finished the season with more combined Premier League goals and assists than any other player but he remains without a single minute in Germany, with Jarrod Bowen the preferred attacking option in both games and Eberechi Eze and Ollie Watkins taking to the field in that desperate triple substitution against the Danes.

Ferdinand had already called for “someone like Cole Palmer who has got that bit of swagger and arrogance to say give me that ball” before laying into Kane for his Denmark performance. Palmer up front it is.


1) Anthony Gordon
Trending on Monday morning because England lacked any kind of penetration down the left against Serbia, other issues emerged with more prevalence against Denmark but the absolute absence of any endeavour down that flank keeps Gordon firmly in the picture.

His direct running is absolutely the antidote to Foden and the Pep-like inside-left interplay that nobody wants to see from England players (unless it goes well), especially with Kieran Trippier perennially cutting inside because he is a right-back playing on the wrong side.

Gordon is probably England’s best left-sided winger but the question is whether Southgate wants a winger out there or just wants another of England’s best footballers on the pitch. Gordon is the cause celebre for all those who want Alexander-Arnold dropped and Foden brought central alongside Jude Bellingham. They’re all going to think they’re the first to come up with that solution, because nobody joining a Clamour believes they are in a Clamour.

It also might be worth using one of the best pressers in the Premier League because England, by their own admission, do not know how to do it.