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Five players in contention for an England recall

Gareth Southgate will name his England squad for March’s international break on Thursday, as the Three Lions take on Brazil and Belgium in friendly fixtures.

This month’s games represent the final chance for Southgate to experiment with his squad ahead of the 2024 European Championship, with time running out for players to force a route into his plans.

With issues to address across the pitch, a number of familiar faces have emerged as potential problem solvers for the England manager. We’ve looked at five Premier League players who are pushing for an England recall this month.

Five players in contention for an England recall:

Ben White

Ben White is a curious case of a footballer failing to cement a place in Southgate’s plans, despite excelling at club level and boasting the attributes to thrive internationally.

The defender has not featured for the national side in two years and has not been included in an England squad since leaving the 2022 World Cup squad prematurely for personal reasons. Southgate insisted White still had a future with the national team but has so far overlooked the Arsenal defender.

White, however, has been in fine form this season for an Arsenal team who top the Premier League table and boast the division’s best defence. The 26-year-old is comfortable in multiple roles and has inverted into the Arsenal midfield from full-back this season, while his distribution could be utilised in a more central role given England’s lack of established depth at centre-back.

With John Stones increasingly used in midfield for Manchester City, White could be an option to replace Stones defensively, should the latter be moved forward to fill the problem position alongside Declan Rice.

Joe Gomez

Jurgen Klopp has called on Southgate to hand Joe Gomez an international recall, with the Liverpool defender having reignited his career this season. Fitness problems had prevented Gomez from building on a fine season as Liverpool won the Premier League in 2019/20, and the defender has not been capped for England since 2020.

However, Gomez has been a key part of Liverpool’s challenge on all fronts this season, deputising impressively at left-back in the absence of Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas. The 26-year-old’s comfortability in any role across the backline has increased his minutes, allowing him the chance to rediscover his rhythm and form.

With first-choice left-backs Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell struggling with injuries of late, the inclusion of the multi-functional Gomez could provide ideal cover.

Ross Barkley

Ross Barkley’s renaissance at Luton has led to speculation over a shock international inclusion this month.

It’s been four-and-a-half years since Barkley last appeared for England, earning his last cap in a European Championship qualifier against Bulgaria in 2019. The 30-year-old’s career appeared on the slide after a disappointing spell in France at Nice, but a return to English football at Kenilworth Road has relaunched the midfielder.

Barkley has been trusted in a deeper role than he occupied when bursting onto the scene at Everton, where an increased maturity in his game has been evident. Comfortable receiving the ball in tight situations, his evasiveness when pressed has helped carry Luton up the pitch and improve what has often been a struggle for possession.

England’s midfield options are in short supply, with Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips – two stalwarts of the Southgate regime – lacking form heading into a major tournament. Barkley would represent risk, but what a story his return to the squad would be.

Dominic Solanke

Dominic Solanke might have been categorised as a one-cap wonder before a ball had been kicked this season, with the Bournemouth forward looking unlikely to add to the appearance he made for England in 2017.

After excelling for England at youth level, Solanke was handed a substitute appearance against Brazil at Wembley, but a modest goal return at club level meant more appearances failed to arrive.

Now 26, Solanke has found his feet in the Premier League and a career-best campaign at Bournemouth has catapulted him into the conversation for a recall. He has scored 16 goals in all competitions for the Cherries, form which has kept Andoni Iraola’s side clear of trouble.

Competition is fierce at centre-forward but Solanke has forced himself into contention with a brilliant season on the south coast.

 

Ivan Toney

Will Ivan Toney earn an England recall this month?

Toney’s hopes of featuring at the 2022 World Cup were ended after allegations of gambling breaches first emerged, with the forward left out of that squad before being hit with an eight-month ban from football.

The Brentford striker returned for the west Londoners in January and has since scored four times in nine Premier League appearances, hitting the ground running despite the Bees’ struggle for results.

Toney’s time with Brentford looks likely to end in the summer with top clubs circling for the forward, who will enter the final 12 months of his deal at the Gtech Community Stadium. There’s confidence within Toney that he can perform at the highest level and hopes will be high of an England return, as the striker looks to add to the sole cap he won in March 2023.

However, Ollie Watkins’ stunning season looks to have cemented his place as Harry Kane’s deputy, with Toney’s chances perhaps hinging on whether Southgate opts for three out-and-out number nines in his squad.

Read – Assessing the run-in in the Premier League title race

See more – Noughties Nines: Didier Drogba – Cup final King

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