Is this Eberechi Eze’s final appearance in our uncapped England XI?
Gareth Southgate has been waiting a long time to be able to call up an injury-free and in-form Eberechi Eze, as have F365 England Ladder compilers. That day has finally arrived, and with it perhaps Eze’s final appearance in our Uncapped England XI…
GK: Jason Steele (Brighton)
Goalkeeper can traditionally be a sticking point in these teams, so his love for Jason Steele is now just one more of the many, many reasons we are such huge fans of Roberto De Zerbi. Jason Steele and his tidy footwork are in.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United)
It’d be nice to have two full-backs called Rico and we’re real tempted by Manchester City youngster Lewis here, but despite England’s famously overstocked right-back position it still boggles the mind that Wan-Bissaka has never collected a cap and now, despite returning to some kind of form with Manchester United in recent months, that isn’t even a thing that gets mentioned. Just very strange, isn’t it?
How many England-eligible players can play over 150 games for Manchester United and almost 150 altogether in the Premier League without ever winning an England cap or anyone ever really noticing or caring they’ve never won an England cap. Too busy with the Trent Alexander-Arnold Culture War is why.
CB: Levi Colwill (Chelsea/Brighton)
We’re going to be more and more indebted to Brighton as this goes on. Weird that he technically has to take a big step down back to Chelsea next season as things stand, but presumably something can be worked out. Can’t expect a talent like Colwill’s to wither in mid-table. He needs to be at a club with ambition.
CB: Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa)
Just the first hint of a theme developing here, isn’t there, of players who have improved dramatically or returned to previous heights at clubs who have appointed very good managers this season. Interesting.
LB: Rico Henry (Brentford)
Unlike right-back, where England have quite literally millions of viable options, the left-back cupboard has rather less stock. So much so that when neither Luke Shaw nor Ben Chilwell are available Gareth Southgate’s preferred option is usually just to redeploy one of his million right-backs (usually Kieran Trippier) or, in one memorable misjudgement, ask Bukayo Saka to do it. Rico Henry is right there, though, and ready when you are, Gareth.
CM: Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa)
With the U21s this summer after their European Championships were inexplicably deemed of greater importance/value to Ramsey (yet another player here to benefit hugely from being at a club with a coach who actually tries to coach players and make them better) than sitting on the bench watching Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham and to a lesser extent Kalvin Phillips against Malta and North Macedonia. Probably, you’d have to say, fair enough.
CM: Curtis Jones (Liverpool)
A genuine revelation in recent weeks for Liverpool and we’re taking every last slice of credit going. You’re welcome.
AM: Morgan Gibbs-White (Nottingham Forest)
Player of the year in an excellent Nottingham Forest survival story and proven beyond reasonable doubt that he absolutely belongs in the Premier League. Like Ramsey, must have been close to a senior call this time around but like Ramsey surely better off playing for the U21s in the Euros. England are generally quite sensible these days.
RW: Solly March (Brighton)
One of our favourite storylines of the season has been Brighton one-club man Solly March having comfortably the best season of his life at 28 and as an industrious, selfless, loyal and reliable attacking player unafraid of putting a defensive shift in when needed he does appear to be perhaps the single most Southgate footballer around who never really gets talked about for an England call-up.
LW: Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace)
Hopefully the last chance we get to put him in this team and at long last vindication for those long, long years of keeping him in and around the England Ladder based on Southgate saying he was going to pick him on a standby list that one time. Lovely player to watch, excited to see him do it for England, please don’t get injured this time.
CF: Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal)
We’re on the record as being big fans of Southgate’s policy over the last few years of essentially handing every half-decent English striker not called Harry Kane in the Premier League an audition for the chance to very rarely play for England because of Harry Kane. They’ve all got caps, your Wilsons, your Toneys, the Watkinses of this world. Even Patrick Bamford got one, back in the day. Dominic Solanke got one! But, reasonable policy as it was and is, having all these strikers knocking about with a couple of caps isn’t much use to us here.
Luckily, Eddie Nketiah has remained resolutely not quite good enough when given a chance by Arsenal but is a thoroughly justifiable pick here based on his stellar scoring record in age-group internationals (16 goals in 17 games for the U21s, six in nine for the U20s, nine in 10 for the U19s etc.) and judicious use of words like ‘process’ and ‘pathway’ to mask the fact he has fewer Premier League goals from more appearances than Dave Kitson.