England: On Southgate's radar
Qualification for Euro 2020 begins next week for England with a double header against Czech Republic and Montenegro. Here are some of the names in the frame for Gareth Southgate's first squad of 2019.
Having rejected an international career in the wilderness with Ireland, the path is now clear for the West Ham starlet to turn out in the white of England.
At just 20, Rice has become a permanent fixture in Manuel Pellegrini’s starting XI after coming on and leaps and bounds at the Olympic Stadium. And with Southgate seemingly not sold on Dier or Henderson in the defensive midfield role, the youngster looks set to be given the chance to make the position his own.
A wise head on young shoulders, it looks as if Rice will be rewarded for a fine season and show of commitment with his first cap.
The Palace right-back is another player involved in a tug-of-war in regards his international side with DR Congo watching on to see if Southgate includes the Croydon born defender for the first time.
Bissaka, capped by England at U21 level, has been a revelation for the Eagles this term. 27 starts tells you everything about the trust Roy Hodgson has in AWB who has taken the shirt from Joel Ward and consigned an experienced defender to a watching brief.
As we know, Southgate is his own man and won’t allow outside factors to influence his decision-making process. But with doubts over the form of Kyle Walker and Kierian Trippier for the RB position, coupled with Southgate’s insistence of picking players in-form, you have to think Wan-Bissaka will now get his chance.
After almost 50 appearances at England youth level, the Southampton man earned his one and only senior cap in 2017.
An eight minute cameo off the bench against Germany made the occasion far from memorable though and another call failed to materialise, unsurprisingly.
Precisely two years on however, Ward-Prowse has caught the eye of Southgate once more. The 24-year-old has repaid the faith shown in him by Ralph Hasenhuttl with several high energy performances and notably some end product. Impressively, his six goals - all since the turn of the year by the way - is the most by an English midfielder in the Premier League this season.
Captaining Wolves in the Premier League week in, week out in the Premier League has certainly helped people sit up and take notice of the central defender but the national manager has long been aware of Coady’s qualities through his appearances in various England youth teams.
At 6ft 1, 26 years of age and composure in abundance, Coady fits the bill for the type of defender the England boss prefers in his backline. Any concern as to whether the former Sheffield United and Huddersfield man could do it at the top level have been eased with a fine debut season in which Coady has played every minute of Wolves’ 30 PL games.
With injury and fitness concerns set to keep Phil Jones and Joe Gomez out of contention, the time seems right to reward Coady with a first senior call.
It was no surprise to see Burnley’s mid-season revival coincide with the return of their club captain between the sticks.
Heaton marked his return to the side with a clean sheet at home to West Ham on 30th December and hasn’t looked back since, helping to shore up a permeable defence with his calming influence and natural shot stopping qualities.
Let’s not forget, Heaton would’ve had a seat on the plane to Russia last summer had it not been for the shoulder injury which saw him fall down the pecking order at club level too.
Jordan’s Pickford recent error-strewn displays for Everton have cast doubt over the number one jersey in the short-term, a factor that is likely to see Heaton given the opportunity to add to his three caps.