Euro 2020 Qualifiers: 3 players who were lucky to be selected by England
The first international break of 2019 is now upon us, and, for the most part, attention this week will turn to the beginning of the qualifying campaign for Euro 2020. Gareth Southgate’s England side face the Czech Republic on Friday and Montenegro on Monday, knowing they already have at least a playoff spot in the bag thanks to their success in the UEFA Nations League in 2018.
Southgate announced his squad last Wednesday and with England now having a huge glut of talented players to pick from, choosing which players go with the senior squad is no longer an easy job.
England fans will always debate over which players should be chosen for the squad, and although most followers of the Three Lions will have faith in Southgate, it could be argued that at least a couple of the players chosen this time probably hadn’t earned their spot.
Here are 3 players who perhaps didn’t deserve to be called up to the England squad – this time at least.
#1 James Tarkowski
Burnley’s James Tarkowski made his international debut during last March’s friendly fixture against Italy, and while he performed admirably despite conceding a penalty, it wasn’t quite enough for him to force his way into England’s World Cup squad.
Following the international retirement of Gary Cahill and the slip down the pecking order of Phil Jones, Tarkowski was back in the fold for the Nations League games in September and October, but slipped out again for November’s fixtures.
He’s now been recalled, but despite an upturn in form recently, it’s a little hard to justify his position when you consider a couple of the players who have been left out. Most notably, there was no maiden call-up for Wolves’ Conor Coady, while Lewis Dunk of Brighton was also left out despite appearing in England’s November fixture against the USA.
To be fair, this isn’t a slight against Tarkowski as stats-wise, the three men appear to be on a similar level in defensive terms – with Tarkowski having an advantage over Dunk and Coady when it comes to average tackles per game.
But Southgate values defenders who can play out from the back – hence the reliance on John Stones, Harry Maguire and Joe Gomez – and while Dunk has a pass success rate of 82.5% and Coady 84.4%, Tarkowski lags behind on 69.3%.
Throw in the fact that Tarkowski’s Burnley side have conceded more goals (59) than any other side in the league outside of the notoriously leaky Fulham, and it’s a little hard to justify choosing one of their defenders for the national side, especially when there’s not a dearth of talent. Tarkowski has yet to let Southgate down, however, so he does have that on his side.