The ten best players England must be careful not to lose to other countries, including Chelsea pair

Date published: Wednesday 28th September 2022 8:07 - Matthew Stead

England youth players Anthony Gordon and Tino Livramento

In the modern day it is weird for a player not to be eligible to represent about 15 different countries. England must be wary over these ten.

 

10) Jack Harrison
Stuck so high on this list purely on the basis that his international eligibility is the subject of mild fascination, uncertainty, claim and counter-claim.

Jack Harrison was born in England, raised in England, plays in England and has two England youth caps. But those seven years spent training, developing and starring in America are the root of confusion.

“I’d love to represent England, my national team,” Harrison said in 2017. “If the interest is not there, further down the line if I’m able to get U.S. citizenship I’m not opposed to that either.”

Manchester City signed him before the citizenship process could take its course. But it might not even matter: a FIFA rule change in 2020 declared that players who were not born in the country and had no direct heritage there could still be deemed eligible to represent them if they lived in the territory for at least five years before turning 18. Harrison comfortably checks that box.

Yet doubt continues to cloud his situation – and perhaps always will. The list of England wide forwards ahead of Harrison is as long as the paperwork the USMNT would have to file to confirm his status, thus he is likely to exist in perennial international limbo, even if he has more compelling credentials than James ‘Pirlo’ Maddison.

For now he remains in our uncapped Premier League XI.

 

9) Demarai Gray
There are not too many Premier League winners knocking about in their mid-20s with 38 England youth caps but no appearances for the senior side.

Six months before Gareth Southgate stepped into the gravy-soaked shoes of Sam Allardyce as interim manager in September 2016, Demarai Gray was praised by the U21s coach for “a real shift” on his debut. A call-up to the full squad came two years later as a potential debutant alongside then-Leicester teammate Ben Chilwell, but only the Foxes left-back was given the substitute nod in a 1-0 win over Switzerland.

Gray has not been on the scene since, despite producing some of his career-best work at Everton. Jamaica earmarked the forward as one of their targets to lure from English citizenship in a 2021 plan which snared Michail Antonio and Jamal Lowe among others, and still might convince Ivan Toney that the grass is greener.

 

8) Trevoh Chalobah
A cursory England cap seemed destined for the head of Trevoh Chalobah at one juncture. The versatile centre-half had honed his trade on loan in the Football League before returning to Chelsea and immediately being entrusted with a place in the defence of the European champions by Thomas Tuchel.

Chalobah signed a new Blues contract in the November of his first season, adding his first goals in the Premier and Champions League. But squads came and went without the same recognition brother Nathaniel received through his solitary England appearance in 2018.

Graham Potter could unlock that door for Chalobah but it seems likelier that he will be pushed further to the edge of the Chelsea first team. Sierra Leone, where the 23-year-old was born and spent the first part of his life, might be the ultimate beneficiaries.

 

7) Carney Chukwuemeka
While a £20m Big Six signing would ordinarily register on the England radar, Southgate won’t have caught a recent glimpse of Carney Chukwuemeka outside of some Cobham training sessions, U21 Premier League games or England U20 fixtures.

Todd Boehly was thrilled to procure “one of the most exciting young players in Europe,” but he has yet to properly see him in action. Chukwuemeka left Aston Villa in search of more regular opportunities and a place on the bench in between Armando Broja and Conor Gallagher has been his reward.

The teenager is on the pathway to England honours but that is a treacherous route that many fail to complete. Nigeria have tempted Alex Iwobi and Ademola Lookman in similar circumstances before and the Austria-born Chukwuemeka has already shown once that his patience has a limit.

 

6) Josh Dasilva
“I am Angolan, my parents are Angolan, they are proud of where they are from and I am proud to be Angolan,” said Josh Dasilva in February 2020. “We just have to see what opportunities come and we will talk about it.”

Almost three years later, the Brentford midfielder has made as many Premier League appearances as Jason Cundy, Harvey Elliott and Vincent Pericard, matching Phil Jones, Mikele Leigertwood and Andy Griffin’s goal tallies.

That has somehow done little to catch the attention of the powers-that-be. Some sustained form in the middle for Brentford and that might eventually change. Jake Livermore was on the stand-by squad for the last World Cup list so rule nothing out.

 

5) Eddie Nketiah
The fight might already be lost. Recent reports suggested Ghana were preparing for the World Cup by checking the small print on the birth certificates of previously devoutly English players; Tariq Lamptey has already blinked and Callum Hudson-Odoi is expected to follow.

Eddie Nketiah is proving far harder to persuade. That England U21 goalscoring record runs deep, forming an indelible connection and coursing through ice-cold veins. Cut him and he bleeds Toulon Tournament. A few starts and goals would not go amiss but his role of genuine importance for the Premier League champions-elect mean it will surely be his turn soon to have the privilege of watching from the bench as Harry Kane never rests.

 

4) Rico Henry
England’s Left-Sided Problem, Part Two: Electric Boogaloo has been a hoot thus far. In recent times, the left-back spot has been passed from pillar to back post.

Neither Luke Shaw nor Ben Chilwell are playing regularly for their clubs and that international rhythm has suffered as a consequence. The unlimited stock of right-backs has even seen Kieran Trippier and Reece James shifted over to the other side. Bukayo Saka had had a go at wing-back. External solutions such as Tyrick Mitchell, James Justin and Kyle Walker-Peters have not offered overwhelmingly compelling arguments.

This era’s Steve Guppy – albeit a genuinely possible long-term answer – might well be Rico Henry. The consistency, supreme one-on-one defending and attacking instincts mark him out as a legitimate option. “He will get his England debut,” said Thomas Frank last December. If not, Jamaica would be thrilled to have him.

 

3) Tino Livramento
“My mum is the one that wants me to play for Scotland over anyone,” Tino Livramento said last year, before admitting that his Portuguese father is, by contrast, relatively ambivalent on the matter of his son’s international allegiance.

“My grandparents are from Portugal, it would make them more proud than it would make him if I did. He lets me do what I want to do. He will be happy if I am playing international football for anyone.”

That much is certain. Livramento should be able to rack up the caps if the teenager’s Southampton progress continues and injuries are kept to a minimum. Representing England at six different age groups and being a right-back does make for a particularly convincing case but the Three Lions must not be complacent in assuming Livramento will stick it out for too long.

 

2) Anthony Gordon
One of the motivations behind Anthony Gordon’s summer desire to move to Chelsea, alongside riches beyond his wildest dreams and an untameable desperation to emulate Ross Barkley, was his England future. The Everton forward felt sitting on the Stamford Bridge bench would strengthen his chances of not only getting called up, but making the World Cup squad as a late rogue addition to Southgate’s plans.

Qatar will come far too soon but it does feel like a matter of time before Gordon is making a substitute cameo in a 1-0 qualifying win over Poland in front of a peaceful Wembley under Everton and England manager Frank Lampard. Scotland and the Republic of Ireland will be monitoring developments with a keen interest.

 

1) Eberechi Eze
“As soon as he got in the dressing room and turned on his phone there was a message from England to say he was in the provisional squad. That compounded his misery and a lot of us were in tears.”

Shortly after Eberechi Eze’s 2020/21 season was ended abruptly by an Achilles rupture, Andros Townsend confirmed that “probably my closest mate at the club” returned to his locker to find a text from the FA confirming his inclusion in the 33-man provisional squad for the Euros.

Unlikely as it was that Eze would have made the final cut, it was a cruel twist of fate. The 24-year-old’s subsequent return to fitness and form in an exciting Patrick Vieira team means another England call might not be too far away. The only ones hoping otherwise will be a Nigerian FA desperate to entice him.

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