Gareth Southgate will name his first post World Cup squad on Thursday. After a great summer it will be a case of evolution not revolution with England and the core group will remain intact, but there will be changes. Here are some of the contenders for a call.
The Dead Certs
Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
An ever-present in a defence yet to concede, of course Gomez is getting called up! Were it not for injury Gomez would have gone to the World Cup, but now back and providing the perfect athletic foil for Virgil Van Dijk at Liverpool, Gomez can expect an England recall this week.
Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
With Danny Rose not getting a minute thus far at Spurs and Shaw making a positive start to the new season, this looks a safe bet. Shaw has endured a torrid few years in Manchester but now looks set for a prolonged spell in the United team and looks likely to restart his England career.
Alex McCarthy (Southampton)
The Southampton stopper has made a solid start to the new campaign (not to mention keeping Angus Gunn & Fraser Forster out of the team) and with Nick Pope injured, Southgate needs a new number 3. It’s unlikely McCarthy will play, particularly given Jordan Pickford still only has 10 caps. But this seems a good time to get McCarthy into St Georges Park and get a look up close at him in training. And Pickford will start against Spain there seems little point in recalling Joe Hart.
In-Form and Uncapped
Conor Coady (Wolves)
The Wolves skipper has successfully made the step up to the Premier League, five years after his final Under 21 cap. Southgate will certainly retain his favoured back 3 of Maguire-Stones-Walker but with Gary Cahill & Phil Jones not getting a game, England need a few more to look at in defence, Coady merits a try.
Will Hughes (Watford)
The combative midfielder ended last season on a high and has brought that form to the new campaign as part of Watford’s flying start. Hughes had a fine Under 21s career and would have a senior cap already were it not for injury problems. This would still represent a long shot, but if he continues his current form a call up won’t be far away.
Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
Scored a brilliant goal against West Ham and has started to look the player he was before his ACL tear. With Jamie Vardy out of sorts, England need a plan b to Harry Kane and there’s no harm in taking a leaf from Italy’s book and calling up an in form striker for a midseason fixture.
The Forgotten Men
After a year of injury problems Chelsea are belatedly seeing a fit Ross Barkley. Maurizio Sarri has yet to iron out those giving the ball away it dangerous positions problem, but he is looking sharp. Southgate isn’t a confirmed fan and I suspect will need more convincing before bringing Barkley back.
Foster’s had a superb start to the new season with Watford and was hugely impressive against Crystal Palace. At 35 Foster doesn’t represent the future and with Pickford undisputed number 1, it would seem an odd time to bring Foster back after a four-year absence.
Looking lean & sharp, Sturridge is back in Jurgen Klopp’s good books. But he still hasn’t started a game this season and Southgate will be reluctant to get to cosey with a player with a notorious injury record. Sturridge scored the first goal of the Southgate era and may yet get more, but for now he needs to have an injury free run before getting back in the national team.
Walcott has been hugely impressive for Everton, notching 2 goals and an assist. But his wild miss against Southampton felt all too familiar and after such a hit and miss England career, Walcott feels like one of those players England are better off leaving in the past.
Looking to the Future
Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
Sancho looked great in pre-season although he started Sunday’s opening Bundesliga game on the bench. There seems little harm in giving Sancho a chance to impress next week and Southgate has form for taking players from the age group squads and giving them a debut in friendlies (Solanke, Cook, Winks). Don’t be surprised to see Sancho get his debut at the King Power.
Playing well and not burdened by his hefty price tag, Maddison is definitely moving up the pecking order. But he’s still only played 3 games for the Under 21s and perhaps would benefit from more time in the Leicester team and with the Under 21s before making his senior bow.
This would be controversia!. Foden has only 9 minutes Premier League football this season and wasn’t even on the bench for City this weekend, all whilst Kevin De Bruyne remains crocked. Controversial on the one hand, but on the other he was excellent in the Community Shield and most (including Pep) expect great things from Foden. He may well be the player with that x factor England lack as they seek to improve their midfield, the question is does he get in now or later?