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Five Unselected England Players Forcing Their Way Into Gareth Southgate’s Plans

The depth of talent across English football is currently the best it has ever been.

Approaching what many believe will be his final tournament as national team manager, Gareth Southgate’s squad selections have never been so scrutinised. The most recent announcement has been no different as the England boss has come under fire for the inclusion and omission of certain names.

With places in the European Championship’s squad limited, here are five players potentially giving Southgate a selection headache.

James Ward-Prowse
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Perhaps the most frustrating omission for England fans is West Ham United midfielder James Ward-Prowse.

The 28-year-old was handed his debut for the national side in 2017, however, has only made 11 appearances since. Many said during his time captaining Southampton he deserved more national team attention and his performances following his move to East London have only strengthened these arguments.

Nine goal involvements in nine games this season makes him one of the most in-form players available for selection.

Southgate instead is choosing to opt for the players he has trusted most throughout his time in charge. England’s ever-present Kalvin Phillips has seriously struggled for game time at Manchester City, and even with Rodri’s recent suspension, Pep Guardiola favoured playing Bernardo Silva or Mateo Kovačić at the base of midfield.

Jordan Henderson is playing regular football however for Al-Ettifaq in Saudi Arabia. At 33, it is questionable how much longer he can produce the level required for England.

Playing well in domestic and European competition, it is unclear what more Ward-Prowse can do to earn a recall.

Raheem Sterling
Credit: Matt McNulty/Getty Images

With 82 caps and 20 goals, until September, Raheem Sterling had been an ever-present for Southgate’s England.

For Chelsea, the forward has, in some games, been the best player on the pitch.

The 28-year-old scored twice against Luton Town while also scoring once and winning a penalty last weekend against Burnley.

In a squad packed with over a billion pounds worth of signings, Sterling’s quality is standing out. While the England wing positions are flooded with talent, he has demonstrated his ability to perform in international tournaments.

In September, Southgate said that Sterling ‘was not particularly happy about it’ when informed of his omission. If the winger can consistently produce strong performances this season, his credit in the bank should earn him a recall.

Ben White
Credit: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Ben White’s return from the Qatar World Cup midway through the tournament produced a number of rumours about his relationship with the England set-up.

While ‘personal reasons’ were cited as the cause, the Arsenal defender has not been called up for an England camp since. Regardless of this, the 26-year-old’s performances for his club will make him hard for Southgate to ignore.

Heading into the last European Championships, the right-back position had a surplus of talent for England, however, this is less obvious this time around.

Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker are still outstanding, but both are ageing, while Reece James remains perpetually injured. Furthermore, Trent Alexander-Arnold was listed as a midfielder in the last squad announcement, indicating his future role for England.

So far, White has played every Premier League minute in an Arsenal defence that has conceded just six goals from eight games.

He has demonstrated an ability to lock down dangerous wingers, notably Jeremy Doku last week. His combination play with Bukayo Saka, something integral to Arsenal’s success, could also be utilised at international level.

Ezri Konsa
Credit: Neville Williams/Getty Images

Another defender currently in top form for their domestic side is Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa.

Konsa has started every game this season in an Unai Emery system that asks an awful lot of the defenders. Following Tyrone Mings’ injury in the first game of the season, a 5-1 loss to Newcastle United, Villa’s defence could have then fallen apart.

Instead, alongside Diego Carlos and Pau Torres, rookies in English football, they have only conceded more than one goal in one other league game.

Capable of playing centre-back in a back three or a back four as well as playing several games at right-back, his versatility would be useful in tournament football.

While Konsa has played youth football for England, he is yet to make his senior debut. Also eligible to play for Portugal through his mother, it may be in Southgate’s interest to integrate him soon.

Anthony Gordon
Credit: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Following a slow start on Tyneside, Anthony Gordon is now showing why Newcastle spent around £40 million to sign him.

The 22-year-old has four goal involvements from seven league games already this season. Coupled with his defensive work, being a ferocious presser in Eddie Howe’s system, Gordon has greatly improved his all-round game.

He has also shown an aptitude for international tournament football. Last summer, in England’s under-21 Euros win, Gordon was awarded Player of the Tournament. Able to play across the attack, the biggest issue he faces is the depth England have in his potential positions.

With his rapid improvement, by the summer Gordon could be providing an even more compelling case for his inclusion.

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