Southgate’s five-star surprises
With the 2016/17 domestic football campaign beginning to wane, attention will soon turn to what is considered one of those dates, most fans usually hate; international duty and no doubt manager Gareth Southgate is already starting to form a plan of his selection.
Who will Southgate favour?
However, with not much else on offer, it will be the last chance to see any ‘competitive’ action before the season ends for good. England are set to play an away qualifier against Scotland, before travelling to France for a friendly against Les Bleus and places are up for grabs.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing questions is, will there be any surprise inclusions when Gareth Southgate calls up his next England squad? With some standout performances throughout this season, there are a number of contenders who could be in line for a call-up.
Let’s look through five potential candidates who may have done enough to make the grade.
Charlie Taylor: Leeds United
There are no shortage of potential England left-backs for the future; admittedly it is a quality talent pool for what was once considered a problem position. Taylor, at Leeds United has been the subject of much transfer speculation recently and his form this season helped his club to a seventh place finish in England's second tier. Adept at both going forward and defending, he epitomises a modern full back and a call-up to the Three Lions senior squad would cap a fine finish to the season. Image Source: The Kop Times
Harry Maguire: Hull City
Reportedly a summer transfer target for Liverpool, the defender has come on leaps and bounds for Hull City this term. He embodies an all-round centre back; great in the air, astute positional awareness and he can play with the ball at his feet. There is no reason to suggest why he can't be a future starter for England and he should definitely be on Southgate's radar. Image Source: football.co.uk
David Stockdale: Brighton & Hove Albion
The goalkeeper has played an integral part in Brighton's promotion season and while it is highly unlikely that he would beat the likes of Joe Hart to the No.1 jersey, he would make a very capable third choice in the squad. Having played in the Premier League, he has come up against quality week in, week out throughout his career, has a dominant commanding presence and has showed time and again that his shot-stopping on his day could certainly threaten the best. Image Source: africanseer.com
Ademola Lookman: Everton
This young man burst onto the scene for Everton following his January transfer from Charlton Athletic, with a fine goal in the Toffees' demolition of Manchester City and has shown the kind of quality that excites all England fans. Fast, tricky, strong and an eye for goal, he is a defender's nightmare and at just 19 he can develop into a world-class talent. Giving him a taste of international duty at senior level could be a shrewd move by Southgate and it might just spur him onto even better things next term. Image Source: africa-football.com
Jack Stephens: Southampton
Brought into the Saints starting XI due to Virgil van Dyke's injury, the centre-half has been one of the more consistent performers for Southampton and is just as comfortable as a holding midfielder. With performances more than his years against both Arsenal and Liverpool, the 23-year-old has put down a marker and is another example of a young English defender who can consolidate his future status in the England set-up if given the chance. Image Source: fm-base.co.uk
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On balance they have probably done enough throughout this season to warrant their selection. While many England fans are bored of seeing the same old names grind out a nervy result, this influx of talent might just freshen the side up.
While the season isn’t quite over, Southgate certainly needs to already have an idea in his head of who he is going to pick, with the match against Scotland, on pride alone, a huge game for the England faithful.