England return to action next month, with friendlies against Italy and Denmark, and it’s potentially the last chance Gareth Southgate will have to assess his options and take a close look at some alternatives to his existing squad. With this in mind, here are five players hoping to force themselves into the manager’s plans ahead of the Euros.
Danny Ings – Southampton
The 27-year-old striker won his first, and so far only, England cap shortly after joining Liverpool back in October 2015. He played half an hour in a 3-0 win over Lithuania, and would surely have been given more opportunities if he hadn’t suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in his first training session under Jurgen Klopp later that month.
After a couple of seasons devastated by injury, Ings has gradually regained his form and confidence. Since moving to Southampton permanently last summer, he has scored 18 goals in 30 appearances, moving them away from the threat of relegation and putting himself in contention for a long-awaited return to the England squad.
Dean Henderson – Sheffield United
There’s a degree of uncertainty about the England goalkeeping situation given Jordan Pickford’s indifferent form and Tom Heaton’s injury trouble. Nick Pope is certain to make the squad alongside Pickford, but the third spot is still up for grabs.
The uncapped duo of Dean Henderson and Aaron Ramsdale have both presented excellent cases for inclusion, with the Blades’ on-loan goalkeeper just edging the battle. The 22-year-old has kept nine clean sheets in his first Premier League season so far and still hopes to make the breakthrough back at his parent club Manchester United.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – Everton
Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment has transformed Everton’s prospects, and also those of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Since he joined the club from Sheffield United four years ago, he had shown glimpses of his ability but seemed to lack a killer instinct. That’s all changed in recent months, with the 22-year-old scoring seven in nine league games since Ancelotti’s arrival to take his tally for the season to 12.
With Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford currently unavailable, Calvert-Lewin has the chance to make his mark at senior international level having previously impressed as part of England’s age-group teams. In 2017, he scored the only goal in the final of the Under-20 World Cup to beat Venezuela.
Jack Grealish – Aston Villa
When the floppy-haired attacking midfielder switched his international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland over to England in September 2015, he didn’t expect to still be awaiting his first call-up to the senior squad almost five years later. There have been plenty of disappointments in the intervening period, but Jack Grealish deserves his chance.
Since Aston Villa’s relegation, he has matured a great deal and is currently playing the best football of his career. Incredibly composed on the ball, able to drift past opponents with ease, he has been the bright spark in an often dysfunctional team. Seven goals and six assists is an excellent return in the circumstances and a move to one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs surely awaits.
Dwight McNeil – Burnley
Burnley are on a great run of form at the moment, taking 13 points from their last five games to move into the top half of a congested table. Throughout this spell, McNeil has been as influential as ever. At the age of just 20, he has started every single league game this season for Sean Dyche’s side, providing the craft and technical quality sometimes lacking from his more workmanlike teammates.
Although McNeil has previously trained with Gareth Southgate’s squad, he is still awaiting his first call-up. Comfortable playing across midfield, although typically deployed on the left by Dyche, the only slight doubt is where he fits into the current England system.