For several years, as the dying embers of the Golden Generation smouldered away, the England men’s national team had selection problems. Who was good enough to play for the Three Lions?
Only a few years later, and a very different selection problem is emerging, where the question is now about who to leave out.
The recent international break, with wins against the USA and Croatia, won’t have made things any easier for Gareth Southgate. In fact, the performances of several players previously on the fringes will have made things a lot harder.
Our friends at Football Whispers are here to run through some of these players who may have forced themselves into contention for a starting spot.
UEFA Nations League Enhanced Acca Betting Preview, Tips and Odds – 20/11/2018
Gomez may have leapfrogged Harry Maguire straight into the first-team. Injury had kept him out of the World Cup, but this season he’s been an assured presence at the back for Liverpool, forging a strong partnership with Virgil van Dijk.
Although Maguire was out injured himself during this latest international break, the former Charlton Athletic man could prove hard to displace.
Not only is he solid defensively and capable on the ball — if not quite as adventurous as the Leicester City defender — but he’s also England and Liverpool’s not-so-secret-anymore weapon from long throws.
Since the start of the World Cup, England have become known as a strong side from set pieces. Adding throw-ins to their arsenal through Gomez (via Liverpool throw-in coach Thomas Gronnemark) is yet another weapon in their arsenal.
Transitioning from being a key player at Aston Villa to a substitute, and then auxiliary left-back, for Pep Guardiola isn’t the career path anyone would have expected for Delph.
However, his performances for Manchester City and attitude in the England set-up means that he’s proved himself to his national team coach. It was even enough to earn him the captain’s armband against the United States.
“Fabian is captaining his country for the first time and it is brilliant reward for him,” Southgate said ahead of the USA game.
“You don’t give the England captaincy to someone unless they really have the attributes you think can carry it and he has those outstanding attributes.
UEFA Nations League Goalscorer Betting Tips And Odds – 20/11/2018
“He had a huge influence on the group all through the summer. He was one of the big reasons we were successful.”
“When you have people who give all of themselves even when they’re not in the starting team, then that’s why you have successful teams.”
Delph’s performance against the USA, as well as his leadership, was impressive, meaning that Jordan Henderson might have to look over his shoulder for his spot in central midfield in the future.
Sancho’s start against the USA was the most hotly anticipated part of the match, outside of those who were dying to see Wayne Rooney pull on an England shirt for the 120th time.
There’s no doubt the youngster will pick up plenty more caps in the future, but his good showing might mean they become a regular occurence sooner rather than later. While Southgate was keen to keep Sancho’s feet on the ground, he was very positive about him.
“Some really nice moments for some of the debutants, in particular, for some of the young players – for Trent to get his first England goal, a really well-worked bit of attacking play, nice decision and weighted pass from Jadon (Sancho),” he said after the game.
Sancho’s inclusion also highlights the new-look England team: young, attacking, exciting.
“We talk a lot about a lack of creativity in English players, but when we’re bringing on Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] and we have got Jadon, Jesse and Dele on there, and we know there are other players coming through the system, it is an exciting period,” Southgate said.
“None of these lads are the finished article and Jadon is very raw. Some of his decision-making was really good and some not so good.
“We want him to try things and feel free enough in an England shirt to do those things. He can be really pleased with his first start.”
There’s tough competition for places, but all three of the above players — not to mention Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ross Barkley or Ben Chilwell — may be giving Southgate selection headaches in the near future.
Check out our UEFA Nations League markets here
*odds subject to change
Leave a comment
Follow FB_Whispers on Twitter