GOALKEEPER: Dean Henderson (Sheffield United)
We might be split here at F365 on whether he is ready to take over from David De Gea at Sheffield United, but we are absolutely united in our belief that Dean Henderson deserves a chance to establish himself as an alternative to Jordan Pickford at international level. The numbers back him and so does the naked eye, which sees Everton’s Pickford capable of dropping balls and bollocks. And now he can add us to the list of people who hate him/criticise him for his mistakes just because he plays for England/makes mistakes.
RIGHT-BACK: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United)
It does seem extraordinary that a £50m English right-back is still uncapped but the wealth of talent in that position is ridiculous and AWB is very much a 90s full-back in a decade now dominated by attacking full-backs who can whip in a pin-point cross for a striker rather than misplace a pass inside to a defensive midfielder. But what’s this? A second assist in seven games? There is hope yet. Trent Alexander-Arnold is the gold standard but Reece James is gamboling not far behind. Gareth Southgate spoke specifically about his without-peer one-on-one defending when handing him a call-up in September, but he has since been ignored, with Kieran Trippier providing the experienced ying to TAA’s youthful yang.
CENTRE-HALF: Conor Coady (Wolves)
The problem for Coady is that he plays in a position that does not actually exist for England. Had he been so impressive for Wolves in the run-up to the World Cup of 2018, he would have been excellently placed to slot into England’s back three. But now he is a potential sweeper in a sweeper-less side. “I can’t say anything other than positive things from what I’ve seen, but the system we’re playing at the moment, it’s difficult to map him into, and how would he be as a centre back in a four?” asked Southgate last year. The question still remains unanswered and Coady still appears on ludicrous worst XI articles based on algorithms.
CENTRE-HALF: Jack O’Connell (Sheffield United)
Potentially the same problem will scupper O’Connell’s chances of an England call-up. Curse these newly promoted sides and their innovative formations and tactics. O’Connell has reportedly been watched several times by Gareth Southgate but the England boss has called up six centre-halves this season (including Fikayo Tomori) without taking a chance on O’Connell or Coady. Right now, the cap count with his girlfriend reads Alex Greenwood 43 Jack O’Connell 0.
If Jack O’Connell won’t make it to England’s Euro squad, we riot !!
— #6TIMES (@Ilham_Farouqi) February 9, 2020
LEFT-BACK: Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
The ‘Saka for England’ calls are already A Thing, despite him having started just seven Premier League games as a left-back. No matter when the competition is Danny Rose. Saka was phenomenal against Newcastle on Sunday and produced one of the assists of the season, which edges him ahead of Brandon Williams in this particular entirely inconsequential XI. In reality, Southgate might be minded to give Luke Shaw one more chance – almost five years after he last completed 90 minutes for his country.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United)
Here is a complete list of English midfielders who have played in a defensive midfield position in the Premier League this season: Joe Willock, Mark Noble, Jordan Henderson, Tom Davies, Eric Dier, Nat Chalobah, Declan Rice, Dale Stephens, Harry Winks, Fabian Delph, Hamza Choudhury, James Ward-Prowse, Will Hughes, James Milner, Jack Wilshere, Isaac Hayden, Sean Longstaff. Nine of those players have already been capped and the paucity of the remaining options leads us to the Championship and a player who will be playing Premier League football next season by hook or by crook. Manchester United are interested for a reason. Well, three reasons: He’s youngish, he’s British and he’s fantastish.
Just had a lovely chat with England manager Gareth Southgate at our favourite Italian about a certain Yorkshire Pirlo @Kalvinphillips. Tried to get your place on the plane booked for Euro 2020😃Seems he’s a big fan Kalvin,keep up those amazing performances & you never know! #lufc
— Mike Whorley (@mikewhorley) February 16, 2020
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Stuck in the middle as Pep Guardiola and Gareth Southgate play a game of chicken is Phil Foden, not getting enough minutes for Manchester City to earn an England call-up despite clearly being more than good enough for an England call-up. It must sting to see Mason Mount promoted into the England senior set-up while he treads water in the Under-21s, but it’s hard to argue when he has played just 260 minutes of Premier League football this season. That’s less than even Danny Drinkwater.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
“It’s got to that point where it’s actually embarrassing if he’s not in the squad. We’re talking about Mount, Maddison, Dele Alli, he’s the best of the bunch. As we speak today, he’s the best of them all,” said Jermaine Jenas after another Villa game in which Jack Grealish attempted to single-handedly claim at least a point for his beloved club. We have now reached the point where Southgate cannot – and surely will not – ignore his claims any longer, though the suspicion remains that he simply will not fit into England’s flat-pack system.
RIGHT FORWARD: Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
“Gareth likes Mason and has made his feelings clear. He is a strong candidate to make the squad,” said a ‘source’ in the Daily Mail last month. Greenwood ticks three boxes – he has pace, he is versatile and he is a natural finisher – that make him an asset at international level at a time when England have decided that their strength lies in having really, really quick players on the flanks. There is potentially a fourth spot open to join Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford in that role; the out-of-form Callum Hudson-Odoi is his only real competition.
Mason Greenwood ranks third in both teenage goal contributions & goals scored in Europe’s top 5 leagues — behind only Erling Håland & Jadon Sancho.
He’s over a year younger than both. ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/rSEnnUjt8k
— ً (@utdrobbo) February 16, 2020
LEFT FORWARD: Harvey Barnes (Leicester City)
‘Leicester attacker Harvey Barnes is emerging as a late contender to gatecrash England’s Euro 2020 plans,’ is one example of the stories that emerged last week as England cast their net in the absence of the crocked Rashford and Sterling from the Premier League. But if Southgate travelled to Molineux on Friday then he will have seen one of Barnes’ most restrained performances of the season. If that was an audition, there will be no call-back.
STRIKER: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
“Of course he can play for England, no doubt for this. England has fantastic strikers, he has to fight, but I think he has the quality and possibility to be a great striker for England. I don’t have to tell Southgate to look at Dominic because he already did this. Dominic is doing really well, he has to keep going,” said Carlo Ancelotti last month. And keep going he has; eight goals in his last 11 games makes him England’s in-form goalscorer. Seven English players are in double figures for Premier League goals this season and DCL is the only man yet to receive a cap. “I think Gareth Southgate could do a lot worse,” said Kevin Campbell, which is quite the endorsement.