Gareth Southgate’s evolution of his England side will continue this week as qualification for the 2024 European Championship begins with fixtures against Italy and Ukraine.
After reaching the semi-final and final of the previous two major tournaments, a quarter-final exit at the World Cup in Qatar represented a disappointment for the Three Lions, whose wait for a first major trophy since 1966 extended.
Southgate has decided to remain as head coach as England build towards a new challenge and could look to freshen up his squad across the qualification campaign.
We look at five uncapped names who will be hoping to force their way into international contention.
Jacob Ramsey was backed for an England call up after breakthrough season at Aston Villa in 2021/22, with the midfielder voted as the club’s Player’s Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season.
Ramsey scored six league goals and impressed with his marauding box-to-box performances, leading ex-Villa boss Steven Gerrard to call it ‘a matter of time’ before the national side came calling.
“I know the level of the England players, I’ve been around it, and have enough experience to know it’s only a matter of time, but let’s all be sensible and keep calm about it,” Gerrard said.
Jacob Ramsey’s game by numbers vs. Bournemouth:
100% long balls completed
100% tackles won
85% pass accuracy
10/14 final third passes completed
6 ball recoveries
5/8 ground duels won
3/4 dribbles completed
2 key passes
Complete performance. 💫 pic.twitter.com/Mk4m1908xK
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) March 18, 2023
Ramsey has represented England at various age groups, scoring twice in nine caps for the u21 side. The 21-year-old’s dynamic brand of football could appeal to Southgate, with Ramsey possessing an ability to break lines with late runs from midfield.
He has shown signs of rediscovering his best form during Unai Emery’s strong start at Villa Park and a consistent run of performances could place Ramsey into contention for the summer internationals.
Folarin Balogun has come of age during a loan spell at Reims this season, with only Harry Kane having outscored the Arsenal loanee among English players in 2022/23.
Under the management of English head coach Will Still, Balogun has banged in the goals to challenge for the Ligue 1 Golden Boot. He has scored 17 goals in 27 league appearances for Reims, with only Jonathan David (19) and Kylian Mbappe (19) having outscored the forward in France this season.
Most goals scored by U21 players in Europe's top five Leagues this season:
🥇 Balogun – 17
🥈 Martinelli – 13
🥉 Saka – 12
Arsenal shining all over Europe ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/ETxvty45PE
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) March 22, 2023
After a disappointing loan at Middlesbrough last season, Balogun’s confidence has been restored across the channel and the England u21 international has underlined his potential. He is the youngest player to have reached 17 goals in Ligue 1 since 1956 and will hope his campaign can lead to involvement in Mikel Arteta’s plans next season.
With a proven track record for the u21 side – seven goals in 13 appearances – Balogun will hope to make the step up into the senior set-up, in what remains an open race to join Harry Kane among Southgate’s striking options. The USA and Nigeria will be monitoring developments, should England overlook the New York-born forward.
Rico Henry will take heart from Ivan Toney’s inclusion in the England squad as the left-back looks to become the latest Brentford player to break into Southgate’s plans.
Henry has been a consistent performer for Thomas Frank’s overachievers this season as the Bees have upset the odds to push for a place in Europe. Full of energy at wing-back, Henry will hope to compete with Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell for a place in the squad.
Henry’s strengths are old-fashioned, with his pace often best used to negate opposition wingers rather than provide genuine forward threat. He has just two assists this season and it is an aspect of his game that needs improving if the 25-year-old is to break into the England squad.
⚡ No escape from @ricohenry14 pic.twitter.com/VTmTYqqs8y
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) March 7, 2023
“I’ve not spoken to Gareth Southgate personally, but it’s where I want to be, playing for England,” he told Sky Sports this month.
“That’s everybody’s dream, but I want to keep pushing with Brentford and getting more goals and assists, being defensively solid and see where it leads.
“I look at Luke Shaw, who’s been really good this season, and think why can’t I be there? I have to focus on myself, keep doing well for Brentford and see where it goes.
“I look at Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James’ numbers and they’re crazy, that’s where I want to be too. I want to be on a par with them while still being defensively solid. I’m always pushing in training, practicing putting a lot of balls in the box, but it’s what I want to do more in games.”
Levi Colwill will be on the radar of Gareth Southgate and his England staff, with the defender having impressed on loan at Brighton this season.
Colwill starred during a season on loan at Huddersfield Town last season and broke into the England u21 side as he helped the Terries to the Championship play-off final. Keen to test himself at the top level, he joined Brighton last summer in search of minutes following the arrivals of Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana at Stamford Bridge.
Levi Colwill vs Crystal Palace:
• 96 touches
• 89% pass accuracy
• 9 passes into final 3rd
• 3 long balls
• 4/5 ground duels
• 4/4 aerial duels
• 3 fouls drawn
• 3 interceptions
• 0x dribbled past
• 0x dispossessed
• Clean Sheet
1st game back after 2 months. 💎 pic.twitter.com/NCOfEzui6M
— Chelsea Loan Army (@ChelseaLoanArmy) March 15, 2023
After a frustrating start to the season he has become a key figure under Roberto De Zerbi, operating on the left of a back three formation. Left-footed, comfortable in possession and able to progress the ball forward from the backline, he appears to boast all the attributes required to succeed at international level.
Given Harry Maguire’s uncertain future at club level, he could emerge as an option for Southgate given the lack of left-sided centre-back options.
Jamie Bynoe-Gittens will be hoping to follow the path set by Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham in recent seasons, in breaking into the England squad from the Bundesliga.
Bynoe-Gittens is the latest English starlet making headlines at Borussia Dortmund, having scored three goals in just four league starts for the German side this season. The 18-year-old left Manchester City’s academy set-up to sign for Dortmund in 2020 and has established himself in the club’s first-team plans this season.
1⃣8⃣ years old 😲
Jamie Bynoe-Gittens take a bow 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/NQs1sCaQOL
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 23, 2023
Part of the England u-19 side that won the European Championship in 2022, he has represented the national side at various age levels and will be hoping further development can place him on Southgate’s radar.
The winger is comfortable on either flank, with a preference to cut inside from the left. England boast a wealth of options in the wide roles, but Bynoe-Gittens will hope he can push himself into contention.
Read – Appreciating every player with 10+ goals and assists in Europe’s big five leagues this season
Read Also – Six Premier League players to watch during the international break
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