England produced one of the biggest surprises of the international week by coming from a goal down to beat Croatia 2-1 at Wembley on Sunday.
It looked as though the Three Lions were going to be relegated when they trailed with 12 minutes to go, but late goals from Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane ensured that Gareth Southgate’s side qualified for next summer’s Nations League semi-finals.
Callum Wilson, Jadon Sancho and Ben Chilwell were among the new international players who impressed the most during England’s games against the USA and Croatia over the last week, leaving several previously capped players fighting for their place when Southgate names his next squad in 2019.
Let’s take a look at the Premier League players who need to up their game before the end of the season if they want to be in Southgate’s thoughts next year…
Jordan Pickford has firmly established himself as the England No.1 following his exploits at the World Cup. With Jack Butland second-choice and Alex McCarthy third-choice, Burnley’s three English goalkeepers — Joe Hart, Tom Heaton and Nick Pope — all find themselves battling it out for a place not only in Sean Dyche’s side but also the England squad.
In all likelihood, Southgate will only recall former No.1 Hart if he loses Pickford and Butland to injury, but Heaton and Pope will both be challenging for an England spot if they can reclaim their place in the Burnley XI. Heaton is currently second-choice to Hart, while Pope is expected to return soon from a shoulder injury.
Joe Gomez, Michael Keane and Lewis Dunk have jumped ahead of James Tarkowski since the Burnley defender was named in the World Cup standby list, but the 25-year-old is certain to be in the reckoning to return if his club side can improve their woeful defensive form.
Ashley Young had a decent World Cup but, at the age of 33, he has not been included in any of Southgate’s last three squads. Fellow Manchester United defender Phil Jones is only 26 but he finds himself in a similar situation to Young, with Southgate preferring to look at new players in his position. As for Ryan Bertrand, he now appears to be fourth-choice left-back behind Chilwell, Luke Shaw and Danny Rose.
With a limited number of high-quality English midfielders/attackers in the Premier League, Adam Lallana and Lewis Cook are the only recently capped players in those areas who are fighting to reclaim their place in the squad.
Lallana is still in Southgate’s thinking but he is unlikely to return until he gets more playing time at Liverpool. In Cook’s case, he has not been involved since he was placed on the World Cup standby list, but there is still plenty of time for the 21-year-old to earn a recall.
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