Arsenal’s Ben White and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold could be the headlines for Gareth Southgate, as he names his squad for next month’s Euro qualifiers at Wembley on Wednesday.
Southgate is expected to name a bigger-than-usual squad, with five Manchester City players included, but all are expected to miss England’s first game in Malta as they recover from the Champions League final.
The international debut comes almost three weeks into the Premier League season, so the England manager knows it can be difficult to call up players late if they have already started their summer holidays, with the U21s preparing for Europe in June. Championship.
Southgate is desperate not to return to England’s last camp, when he was left with only 17 players to choose from against Ukraine due to injuries, illness and suspensions.
White was not in the squad, although a good season helped Arsenal win the Premier League title. But Southgate said he is still very much in England’s plans – despite pulling out of the World Cup in Qatar after a string of “personal reasons”.
Now, with Reece James absent, White could reclaim his place, although England still have plenty of right-back options with Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker expected to be included.
Manchester City players Walker, John Stones, Kalvin Phillips, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden are all expected to be on Southgate’s shortlist, but they have joined late, having missed the initial training sessions for their country.
He could, however, feature in the second game – against North Macedonia at Old Trafford three days after the trip to Malta.
Alexander-Arnold is often behind the rest of England’s squad, but his impressive form in the newly established game could be the key to his return to the international stage.
It was Southgate who started playing the Liverpool man in the middle – an attempt that did not work, and which led Jurgen Klopp to criticize the England manager’s decision.
But Alexander-Arnold has been impressive for Liverpool recently, which could encourage Southgate to try him out on the pitch again.
Likewise, Stones has been a revelation in helping City win the treble, encouraged to progress by Pep Guardiola.
If Stones is now seen by Southgate as a central midfielder rather than a full-back, then Lewis Dunk will finally receive an international call-up to get the form Brighton have been looking for.
Tyrone Mings, too, is hard to ignore as he helped Aston Villa fight for European football. Mings missed the World Cup squad, and did not play for England for 14 months.
Southgate will be keen to include Jude Bellingham in the squad, although he missed the last game against Borussia Dortmund with a knee problem.
Bellingham is crucial to the way England want to play, hoping Southgate will include him if he is fit – although the 19-year-old has played more games this season (54) than any other member of the England squad.
One of Southgate’s biggest calls is who will replace Ivan Toney as Harry Kane’s right-back. Toney was included in the England squad two months ago, despite a lengthy ban looming. He has now been banned for eight months for breaching FA rules.
Newcastle’s Callum Wilson and Villa’s Ollie Watkins are vying for international reinstatement. Both have been successful of late, so the question for Southgate is whether to choose – or choose both.
With 14 goals and six assists for Watkins so far this season, 18 goals and five assists for Wilson.
Eberechi Eze is said to be in the form of his life – backed up by his recent record six goals and assists in his last eight games for Crystal Palace.
While Southgate is expected to name his best and longest-serving players in this camp, there could still be room for the likes of Eze to win his first England call-up.