On Tuesday, Gareth Southgate named his England squad for the upcoming UEFA European Championship Qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.
There were some notable inclusions in the squad, in particular that of Declan Rice, who was called up for England for the first time after changing his allegiance from the Republic of Ireland, for whom he made three appearances for.
One of Southgate’s biggest decisions will come in goal, where, despite an impressive showing at the World Cup, Jordan Pickford has come under scrutiny for some below-par performances in the Premier League. He has made some high profile errors, which included gifting Divock Origi a winner for Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby at Anfield.
Tom Heaton is the man most likely to benefit if Pickford is dropped. The Burnley goalkeeper has had an excellent season thus far, and has looked back to his best after a serious shoulder injury he sustained last season.
Another issue that Southgate faces is the form of some of his star players from the World Cup in Russia. Kieran Trippier has had a poor season with Tottenham, and has likely dropped behind Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kyle Walker in the pecking order, while Harry Maguire has been inconsistent, and Dele Alli has struggled with injuries.
There are a few players who missed out on a spot in Southgate’s latest squad, despite being worthy of a spot. Here are five men who were unfortunate to have been left out of the squad.
#1 Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
The Crystal Palace right-back is the one who will feel the hardest done by in not getting a place in the squad. The 21-year-old has been a consistent performer for Palace ever since breaking into the team last season, and he has been one of the top young players in the Premier League this time around.
His defensive statistics this season are excellent. Only eight times have players dribbled past him in the league this season, and he averages an impressive four tackles per game. His performances have seen him linked with the likes of Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund, and Palace face a real fight to keep hold of him this summer. With Trippier’s continuing struggles, he was more than deserving of a spot in Southgate’s squad.
#2 James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
Another man whose spot in the latest squad has been questioned is Fabian Delph. The Manchester City midfielder hasn’t had too much game time in recent weeks but was lucky to be included. One man who certainly could have taken his place is James Ward-Prowse, who has taken his game to the next level since Ralph Hasenhuttl took over at St. Mary’s.
Ward-Prowse has been at his best over the past fortnight, scoring a superb free-kick at Old Trafford against Manchester United, before repeating the trick against Tottenham a week later to score Southampton’s winner. The 24-year-old is having the best goalscoring season of his career, having netted six times in the league, with his previous best total just four.
#3 James Maddison (Leicester City)
Possibly the most surprising omission from Southgate’s squad is that of James Maddison. The Leicester City man has suffered from the uncertainty at his club, which has seen little consistency in team selection even after manager Claude Puel was replaced by Brendan Rodgers. However, Maddison has still been one of the Foxes’ top performers and has adapted well to life in the Premier League.
It is almost baffling that Maddison has been left out of the squad, given the statistics alone. No player in England’s top five leagues has created more chances than Maddison. The 22-year-old has also scored five goals, while providing a further six assists. Many commented that at the World Cup, England lacked creativity, and that was their downfall against some of the better quality sides. Maddison would certainly have provided that creativity.
#4 Ben Foster (Watford)
There has been a lot of debate about goalkeepers in the lead up to the announcement of this squad. Jordan Pickford has made a number of errors in the Premier League, and hasn’t been at the level he was at during the summer in Russia, while Jack Butland has only been playing Championship football while at Stoke City.
Foster may be 35 years of age, but he is still playing some of the best football of his career. The former Manchester United man has played for England before, having made his debut in 2007, but hasn’t appeared for the national team since playing against Costa Rica in the final group stage match at the 2014 World Cup. He has been a crucial part of Watford’s rise to 8thin the Premier League, and few people could have argued had he been selected in the squad.
#5 Conor Coady (Wolves)
Not many people would have expected this prior to the season getting underway, but the Wolves skipper has been superb in the Premier League so far this season. He has been a crucial part of their impressive season. The former Liverpool player has reinvented himself as a centre back under manager Nuno Espirito Santo, and has really caught the eye since Wolves’ promotion to the top flight.
The only problem for Coady is that it would be tough for Southgate to find him a spot in the squad. James Tarkowski has done well for Burnley in recent weeks, while Michael Keane is finally starting to show his best form for Everton. Coady may have been overlooked on this occasion, but it is only a matter of time until he forces his way into Southgate’s reckoning.
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