With the delayed 2020 UEFA Euros just months away and World Cup qualifying kicking off next month, we take a look at four players who deserve a shot at making the England squad.
From emerging youngsters like Reece James and Kalvin Phillips to out-of-form players like John Stones, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli looking for a recall, the competition for fringe placings in Gareth Southgate’s England squad at the Euros looks fiercer than ever.
We therefore have picked out one player from across all four areas of the pitch who deserve a shot at being named in the Euro squad, based on a mixture of having shown strong form and overall experience.
Karl Darlow (Goalkeeper)
Karl Darlow unexpectedly found himself stepping up as Newcastle’s first-choice goalkeeper after Martin Dubravka suffered a heel injury during the off-season, yet has maturely rose to the challenge to surely earn himself a shot at a spot in England’s Euro squad.
Clean sheets might not be the Magpies’ speciality but Darlow has been exceptional in saving many shots, on top producing plenty of high claims and punches to keep Newcastle in the game on several occasions.
Dean Henderson though seems to be the favoured option given Gareth Southgate’s preference to provide opportunities for youngsters, yet he hasn’t really been getting the game time whereas Darlow would compliment Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope well in terms of experience as third-choice goalie.
James Tarkowski (Defence)
Defence is probably where the toughest competition lies in terms of selection but if there is one man who deserves his opportunity at a major tournament, it has to be Burnley’s James Tarkowski.
We all know that Burnley aren’t the best team defensively overall given their league position, but it is hard to ignore how consistent Tarkowski has been defensively for Burnley in all key aspects of defensive play.
Tarkowski is also in the prime years of his playing career and would definitely add strong all roundness to England’s defence in terms of aerial, tackling and blocking abilities, especially if compared to someone like Kyle Walker who hasn’t exactly been in strong form this season.
Southgate therefore should seriously ponder handing Tarkowski a proper chance to show his potential at a major tournament, although I personally think Wolves’ Conor Coady will get the nod for his leadership skills but there is no doubt that Tarkowski deserves a recall based on form.
James Maddison (Midfield)
Having made just one England appearance under Gareth Southgate, James Maddison definitely deserves another shot because he has shown strong form this season for Leicester.
From proving dangerous with his crosses to imposing his attacking game more, Maddison has turned into one of Leicester’s biggest attacking threats both down the middle and on the wing which would certainly be a huge asset for Southgate in terms of attacking midfield options.
He however will likely need to continue producing quality performances if he is to prove his England credentials and earn a recall, especially given the tough competition from Phil Foden, James Ward-Prowse and others including Leicester teammate, Harvey Barnes for midfield positions.
Patrick Bamford (Attack)
In Leeds’ first Premier League season in almost two decades, Patrick Bamford has proven to be a key player up front and is of an ideal age to be part of the England squad as ideally a back-up striker.
Bamford in particular has been one of the best English players in the Premier League this season in terms of shots, yet his ability in terms of passing, crosses and defending though has been quite weak in comparison but he would fit a Harry Kane style substitute role in the team.
Putting Bamford in the squad at this stage therefore is an incredibly unlikely stretch but should key players get injured like Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford did this time last season, Bamford could certainly find himself in the frame if he can improve his overall play in the second half of this season.