The in-Form Players who Can Freshen up the England Squad

Monday, 3 September, 2018 - 07:45
London - Martin Laurence

Gareth Southgate knows expectations will be on the rise after England fell back in love with its national team at the World Cup. With both Gary Cahill and Jamie Vardy stepping aside from international football last week, two of the three 30-somethings who traveled to Russia have made way for the next generation of talent. Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho – both 18 – could be included in the squad for the upcoming fixtures against Spain and Switzerland, but there are also plenty of first-team Premier League players who will be hoping to force their way into Southgate’s plans.

Joe Gomez, 21
This is something of a no-brainer for the England manager. Gomez only missed the World Cup through injury and he has returned to full fitness in fine form this season. The 21-year-old has played every minute for Liverpool so far this season alongside Virgil van Dijk and he impressed in his last showing with England against Brazil on the right of the back three. The youngster is clearly comfortable with Southgate’s approach of passing out from the back, having completed 89.7 percent of his 77.7 passes per game for Liverpool so far this season.

Luke Shaw, 23
It has been a difficult start to the season for Manchester United, but Shaw has been their best player. He scored his first ever career goal against Leicester in the opening game of the season, which was enough to give United all three points. While the result was bitterly disappointing against Tottenham, the 23-year-old was again United’s top performer. He has made more tackles than any of his teammates so far. The young full-back seems to have his confidence back.

James Tarkowski, 25
Tarkowski was initially included in Gareth Southgate’s standby list for the World Cup and will will hope to go one better this week. Gary Cahill’s retirement has also opened up a spot for a physical defender. Still only 25, the center-back has enjoyed a decent start to the campaign, scoring twice, though Burnley have been uncharacteristically fragile at the back, perhaps owing to their Europa League exertions. That said, Tarkowski leads the league for clearances (29) after three matches, and has been typically dominant in the air, winning 21 of his 24 duels (87.5 percent).

Ben Chilwell, 21
Now unquestionably Claude Puel’s first-choice left-back at Leicester, Chilwell will be hoping to catch Southgate’s eye this season. He has certainly made an encouraging start to the campaign. His is willing to support attacks so would fit a wing-back role well. He has created four chances and completed five dribbles in his three appearances and seems to have worked on his upper body strength to ensure he isn’t bullied by forwards. The 21-year-old is part of an exciting crop of young talent at Leicester.

Demarai Gray, 22
Another player who has established himself as a first-team regular under Puel, Gray’s understanding with Chilwell down the left-flank has been very encouraging. The 22-year-old will be hoping for further progress this season having been eased into the side since joining the club from Birmingham City in 2016. The winger has completed more dribbles than any other player in the Premier League so far (10) and opened his account for the season in the 2-1 win at Southampton.

Will Hughes, 23
Hughes was tipped as one of the country’s rising stars when he broke into the Derby first team as a teenager, but he hasn’t yet hit the heights many expected. This could be the year he makes a name for himself in the Premier League. The midfielder has made a strong impression so far at Watford, starting every game. He scored against Burnley in the second of Watford’s three consecutive victories and has made more tackles than any other player in the Premier League.

Callum Wilson, 26
Wilson, another player who excelled in the Championship but has never reproduced that level of consistency in the Premier League, has also started the season looking sharper than ever before. Injuries have restricted him to just 48 starts and a modest return of 19 goals in the last three seasons, but he has played every minute of the new campaign, scoring twice and setting up one goal while ranking fourth for shots (14).

The Guardian Sport

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