Six uncapped players who could be called up to the England squad this season


If this list looks a little ambitious to you, something to bear in mind. At the time of writing (Monday afternoon), only 71 English players have played a part in both their side’s Premier League games. Of those 71, 28 have already played for England. It’s a shallow pool...

 

Jordan Pickford (Everton)


The usual strategy here is to think of players who you assume haven’t been capped only to realise they have (Nathan Redmond, Kieran Trippier and Aaron Cresswell, that’s you), but Pickford is actually a far more unusual case as a player you assume already has an England cap but doesn’t. 

That’s also about to change very soon. When Gareth Southgate announces his squad on Thursday, it would be hugely surprising if Pickford was not there, omitted only from the games against Scotland and France in June because he was allowed to be part of Aidy Boothroyd’s group that went to the Under-21 European Championship.

With Joe Hart’s place no longer secure, there may be a bunfight to be England’s No. 1 at the World Cup next summer, and Jack Butland and Pickford should be the two likeliest challengers to Hart’s throne. The new Everton goalkeeper’s shot-stopping is as good as his peers, but it is his distribution that is most impressive. That side-footed kick out of hands down the left or right wing is truly majestic.

 

Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford)


Chalobah’s refusal to accept defeat in the battle to break into Chelsea’s first team may have been admirable, but it also cost him two years of regular Premier League football. Now a permanent fixture at Vicarage Road, Chalobah has played more league minutes in the last ten days at Watford than in his entire time at Stamford Bridge. There’s nothing quite like regular league minutes to help a player develop. 

Chalobah is in a privileged position. Rightly or wrongly, his Chelsea history makes him stand out more than his peers at equivalent clubs, and his service for Southgate with the Under-21 squad give him a further advantage. It is too strong to say that the England manager is looking for an excuse to call up Chalobah, but every manager has his favourites. 

Proof of that may not be far away. There are rumours that Chalobah might be handed his chance against Malta or Slovakia. When you only have to get past Jake Livermore in the pecking order...

 

Harry Maguire (Leicester City)


A year ago, the future of England’s central defence looked bleak. The squad taken to Euro 2016 contained only three specialists in the position: John Stones, Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill, and Smalling’s place at club level looked under threat. Furthermore, there were no obvious candidates raising their hands to be noticed.

It is a happy coincidence, then, that each of last season’s three promoted clubs provided a central defender to give Southgate and England supporters heart. Burnley’s Michael Keane gained his first cap before moving to Everton and Middlesbrough’s decision to reject all offers for Ben Gibson mean that he will surely be left waiting, leaving Maguire as the next cab off the rank following his move from Hull to Leicester. 

In truth, Maguire probably merits a little more effusive praise than simply being next in the queue by default. His £17m fee seemed a lot of money in June but less expensive as July and August emphasised just how much the transfer market has changed in the last two years. Having been Hull’s best player last season, Maguire has slotted into Leicester’s defence with consummate ease. A goal and assist in his first two league games are a wonderful bonus. 

 

Alfie Mawson (Swansea City)

And if Maguire doesn’t get the call, what about Mawson? The central defender only joined Swansea in February from Barnsley, but earned plaudits for his leadership in the club’s Premier League survival and then again for his performances for England’s Under-21s this summer.

Still only 23, there is no doubt that Mawson has the appetite and ambition to play for the senior team. “I have this image of being a young leader, and that is what I want,” said Mawson on the eve of the European Championship semi-final against Germany. “I want to be a player in five years’ time that young players can come to and ask for advice. Do I want to be England captain? 100 per cent. I want to be captain at club level and if that ever meant becoming a captain at national level that would be a dream come true.”

There is a valid question whether Mawson will need to leave Swansea for that dream to be realised, but Southgate initially appears to be a manager who is prepared to look down and around the division for those in form rather than calling on the tried and tested names whatever the weather. 

 

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)


Of course it is ridiculous to tout Alexander-Arnold for an England cap after he has started only three Premier League games, but ascents can be rapid at elite clubs. If he can keep his first team place when Nathaniel Clyne - who was in the last England squad - returns from injury, Southgate and his scouts will have no choice but to consider him. 

There couldn’t be a more difficult position in which to break into the England squad than at right-back. Traditionally international managers only take one specialist to major tournaments, and in Kyle Walker, Clyne and Kieran Trippier, Alexander-Arnold has a damn difficult queue to jostle past. He will rightly be told to concentrate on improving and nailing down appearances for Liverpool. He is still just 18.

Yet Liverpool’s Under-23 coach Michael Beale is not shy when discussing the defender’s talent. “He has fantastic technical ability, and hopefully this is a sign of the modern English player: that they are flexible, but also exciting with it,” Beale said. “He’s exactly what we need, and I’m speaking specifically as a Liverpool fan, but I’m also talking about the whole country.” Head down, work hard, dream big. Why not, eh?

 

Tom Davies  (Everton)

You can understand why Ronald Koeman wanted Davies to miss England’s summer tournaments given his workload last season, but it is a great shame that the Everton central midfielder could not be part of the Under-20 team that won the World Cup or the Under-21 team that reached the semi-finals in Poland. The hallmark of England players over the last decade is freezing on the biggest stage. How could it not help to have experience of being away from home and having to perform at your peak for your country three times in ten days?

Davies was the breakout star of 2016/17 in a league where academy players have never had to fight harder for their chance. Of all the players to start 15 or more games in the Premier League last season, he was the youngest by eight months. The minutes played by all those English players born in 1998 or later in the Premier League last season: 2, 324, 111, 23, 165, 276, 9, 1543. Spot the difference.

It is likely that Davies may be allowed to grow accustomed to international football in the Under-21 setup during this season, but why shouldn’t Southgate look at him? If he can continue to get starts in an Everton central midfield that has added Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Rooney and Davy Klaassen and has Muhamed Besic to come back from injury, he at least merits consideration.