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At 2pm today the England squad is announced for the friendly game against Germany on March 22nd and the World Cup qualifier against Lithuania the following Sunday. Gareth Southgate will be deprived of some key players – particularly Harry Kane – but it may give him a chance to experiment. With some uncapped Englishmen impressing in the Premier League here are 10 uncapped English players who could be in line for a shock call-up…
10 uncapped English players in line for international recognition
Jordan Pickford (Sunderland)
In a dire season for Sunderland – is there any other kind? – goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has been a rare ray of light through the gloom. At just 23 years of age, Pickford is young for a first choice Premier League keeper, but he’s proving that age is no barrier.
Pickford makes more saves per game than any other goalkeeper. That may be no surprise considering the defence he’s playing behind, but it’s clear that without him, Sunderland would be even worse off. If picked, he’s very unlikely to start. Joe Hart remains his country’s number one, but Gareth Southgate could do worse than start succession planning by bringing Pickford into the squad for the experience.
Michael Keane (Burnley)
Michael Keane has already been called up once, having been picked by Southgate in his last squad. He didn’t get on the field then, but he’s surely inching closer to a cap. The former Manchester United man’s form this season is making many observers wonder just why the powers-that-be at Old Trafford ever deemed him surplus to requirements.
The Burnley defender has blocked more shots than any other English centre back this season, and he’s a big reason for his team’s impressive defensive displays. Rumours abound that Keane could be off to pastures new this summer, but the England call could well come before he moves on to a so-called “big club”.
Michail Antonio (West Ham United)
The West Ham United man received a call up to Sam Allardyce’s first England squad but did not get on the pitch for Big Sam’s solitary game in charge. Since then, the 26-year-old has been on the outside looking in, but if he has been disappointed he has not shown it. In what has overall been a disappointing season for the Hammers Antonio has been a frequent source of inspiration.
Antonio has been a jack-of-all-trades for his club; popping up at full-back, wing-back, on the wing and up front. Despite being shunted around different positions, he has been remarkably consistent. Nine goals this season prove he can be a threat in the final third, no matter where he plays. With Southgate suffering from a striker shortage, Antonio might have an opportunity.
Harry Maguire (Hull City)
— Hull City (@HullCity) March 15, 2017
The 24-year-old has established himself as a – perhaps the – key player in Hull City‘s survival bid. In the absence of more experienced defenders like Curtis Davies and Michael Dawson, Maguire has needed to step up, and he’s made it look easy.
Not only is Harry Maguire good at the attritional, physical side of the game but he’s also had the most shots on goal of any English defender in the league, and has the kind of composure on the ball that many would not expect from a 6 foot 2 inch defender who learnt his trade in League One.
Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough)
It would be easy to suggest that nepotism played its part in Ben Gibson‘s rise to the first team – he’s the nephew of Middlesbrough‘s chairman Steve Gibson, after all – but the 24-year-old’s performances have earned a place in the team.
Boro hardly ever score goals, so they rely on their defence for any points they get. Gibson has been key this season, and even if his club go down, he may find himself with a role somewhere else in the Premier League. If, that is, his uncle is willing to part with him. It may be a little bit early for an England call-up, but Gibson has worked with Southgate in the England Under-21 side, and the manager may be tempted to pick a player he knows well.
Alfie Mawson (Swansea City)
Alfie Mawson has looked like a player transformed since Paul Clement joined Swansea City. The former Barnsley man looked out of his depth as he (and his colleagues) floundered under Bob Bradley, but things are different now.
Mawson has made more clearances than any other Englishman at the club, and his four goals make him the club’s fourth-highest league goalscorer. His goalscoring exploits should not be a massive surprise, though. He netted seven league goals from centre-back last season for Barnsley, too. Ready for England? The 23-year-old still has work to do – but should be in the manager’s thoughts.
Tom Davies (Everton)
He may be just 18, but Everton‘s Tom Davies has already been called up to an England squad. In 2015, then-manager Roy Hodgson invited the youngster to train with the senior side as a reward for his progress with the Under-17s. Since then, Davies has made rapid progress at club level. He made his debut under Roberto Martinez last season and hasn’t looked back since.
Ronald Koeman has given the midfielder his chance, with 14 league appearances so far. Davies has scored one goal, created two and has generally impressed with his energy and neat passing. He has plenty of competition for places in the England midfield – not least from teammate Ross Barkley – but he has time on his side.
Nathan Redmond (Southampton)
The winger has been predicted to be a future England star since he first broke through at Birmingham City. Now 23, Nathan Redmond remains uncapped but is surely closer than ever to a game for his country.
He has been particularly impressive this season for an inconsistent Southampton under Claude Puel, with five goals and a regular attacking threat. Like any young player, his decision-making needs some work, but that will come with more experience. For now, if Southgate wants an option from the bench to stretch tiring defences, Redmond could be that man.
Andre Gray (Burnley)
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) March 10, 2017
The former non-league striker has been something of a revelation for Burnley this season, and at 25 years old could finally be ready to answer England’s call. The Burnley man has netted eight league goals so far this season, and helped out with two assists. It means he has had a hand in more Premier League goals than any other player at the club.
Despite frankly horrific away form, it looks like Burnley will manage to stay up with something to spare. If and when that happens, Andre Gray deserves a very large portion of the credit. His hard work and tireless running are bound to have impressed the England boss. Perhaps he could follow Jamie Vardy’s path from non-league football to England caps?
Troy Deeney (Watford)
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Watford this season, but the ever-reliable Troy Deeney has been impressive as usual. He has nine goals so far – just four short of last season’s tally – despite lacking a reliable strike partner as he had last term in the shape of Odion Ighalo.
At 28, it might seem as though Deeney’s chance to play for England has passed, but age should not be a barrier. Deeney likely has many years left at the top level, and his skill at both holding the ball up and linking the play means that he could give Southgate a different option in his squad.
Who do you think should be in the England squad? Do you agree or disagree with our selections? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @JustFootball and Facebook for more football news, features and analysis.