Newcastle United and Chelsea stars among players eyeing late England call-ups for Euro 2024
Could there be some surprise names in Gareth Southgate’s squad if England secure their place at the Euro 2024 Finals?
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England will hope to secure their place at next summer’s Euro 2024 Finals when they host Italy at Wembley on Tuesday night.
Gareth Southgate’s men are sat at the top of Group C, three points clear of their visitors and third placed Ukraine, although the Three Lions hold a game in-hand on the latter of those two sides. A place at the finals would be earned if England can complete a double over the Italians - although they will get two further chances to progress when they round off their qualifying campaign with a home game against Malta and a trip to North Macedonia next month.
If, or when England do confirm their place, the race to secure a place in Southgate’s finals squad will officially begin as players from around the Three Lions setup look to catch his eye over the coming months. Stalwarts such as Jordan Pickford, Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice and Harry Kane will have already secured their places on the plane - but what about some players that are yet to feature at senior level but could snatch a place in the squad?
Rico Lewis - Manchester City
Such is the rapid nature of his progress in recent months, there is probably an argument to suggest it would be a shock if Lewis was not named in the England squad for next summer’s tournament.
The Manchester City youngster has been in fine form for Pep Guardiola’s side and was the recipient of some wholesome praise from the former Barcelona, who described Lewis as ‘one of the best players’ he had worked with during his career in the dugout.
Speaking after the youngster put in an impressive display in a Champions League tie with RB Leipzig earlier this month, Guardiola said: “What a player! What a player! I’ve been a manager for 14, 15 years and lucky to train one of the best players in the world in Barcelona.
“To find a player like him playing in the pockets, how he has to move as a holding midfielder, moving in the spaces, he is one of the best I’ve ever trained by far.”
One aspect of Lewis’ game that could work in his favour is his versatility, with the City star able to feature in several positions with maximum impact. For our money - not that we’re gambling folk - he is almost certain to make the cut if England do secure their place at the Euro 2024 finals.
Harvey Elliott - Liverpool
The Liverpool youngster is highly regarded within the walls of Anfield and in the England setup. Having represented the Three Lions at several youth levels, the midfielder is yet to make his senior debut, despite being a regular at Under-21 level over the last 18 months.
After battling back from a serious injury, Elliott is now facing a battle to establish himself in Jurgen Klopp’s side and that could make or break his chances of landing a call-up for next summer’s tournament. As it stands, despite a number of injuries in midfield, the former Fulham youngster has made just two starts so far this season and will surely have to make more of an impact to force his way into Southgate’s squad.
Of course, as we know, regular football isn’t always a non-negotiable when it comes to making the cut.
Cole Palmer - Chelsea
Another mainstay of the England youth setup, Palmer is finding his feet at Chelsea after making a surprise switch from Manchester City earlier in the summer. He would provide another versatile option and one that is able to feature in a number of midfield roles. The 21-year-old provides attacking threat after scoring three goals in nine appearances this season, with two of those goals coming in the colours of City prior to his move to Stamford Bridge.
Five goals in 14 appearances for the England Under-21s will not have gone unnoticed, but, just as with Harvey Elliott, will have to ensure he is a regular feature in the Chelsea squad if he is to make the squad for the Euro 2024 finals.
Sean Longstaff - Newcastle United
The Newcastle United midfielder is the outlier in this list as he is yet to feature in an England squad at any level, despite being a regular feature in Magpies sides over recent years.
In some ways, Longstaff’s absence from Eddie Howe’s side only further emphasised his importance after his return from injury heralded the start of a major upturn in form for the men from St. James’ Park. The academy product’s presence in midfield brought the best out of several of his team-mates with his strong work ethic and clever use of a ball allowing Bruno Guimaraes’ influence to grow after a slow start to the campaign.
Longstaff has also stood up well in Champions League meetings with AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, scoring in the latter as his side claimed a 4-1 home win against the Ligue 1 champions.
He has a big fan in his club manager, with Howe keen to support his midfielder in his bid to earn a maiden call-up. He said recently: “I haven’t spoken with Sean in any great detail about the England squad or his dreams and aims, but I’d encourage it for him because I think he is good enough. I think he’s got everything depending on what system you want to play but for us, he perfectly fits the number eight role that we’re using him in.”
Whether that translates into a similar role in Southgate’s England squad remains to be seen.
James Trafford - Burnley
England’s goalkeeping situation is a curious one. Jordan Pickford remains Southgate’s undoubted number one stopper but the situation behind the Everton star is not as defined.
Sam Johnstone started Friday’s friendly win against Australia and kept a clean sheet as he earned his fourth cap. Aaron Ramsdale remains part of Southgate’s thinking despite losing his place in the Arsenal side and Newcastle United’s Nick Pope was surprisingly left out of the squad despite impressing for the Magpies in the Premier League and Champions League.
The uncertainty could well provide an opportunity for Burnley stopper James Trafford, who caught the eye during England Under-21s’ European Championship win last summer. His move to Turf Moor will bring regular Premier League football for the first time in his career and he could force his way into Southgate’s thinking if he impresses with the Clarets.
Conceding 20 goals in eight games will not help his cause - but there is an admiration of Trafford within the England setup and he will surely come under consideration for a place next summer if he shines over the coming months.
Jarrad Branthwaite - Everton
Just as with Gareth Southgate’s goalkeeper conundrum, there is some uncertainty about the makeup of his defensive options.
There is some loyalty shown to the likes of Harry Maguire and John Stones but the likes of Marc Guehi, Fikayo Tomori, Lewis Dunk and Levi Colwill will hope to press home their own claims with impressive performances for club and country ahead of next summer’s finals.
Everton defender Branthwaite will look to add his own name to that list after breaking into the Toffess lineup on the back of an impressive season-long loan spell at Dutch club PSV Eindhoven. The Carlisle-born defender has started Everton’s last six Premier League games and has three England Under-21 caps to his name after making his debut earlier this summer.
He could be considered the most unlikely to make a late push for the squad next summer but earning regular football with Everton could further his cause if he impresses at Goodison Park.