Emile Smith Rowe has been a shining light for Arsenal in the Premier League this season and his form has fully warranted a spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
His place, however, only came as a quartet of players pulled out. With several names in the squad who have performed inconsistently so far this season, questions are once again being asked about the manager’s selections as there have been others playing well who have found themselves overlooked too.
The young Gunner was all set to be in action over the course of this international break, just with Lee Carsley’s England Under-21s but now has an amazing opportunity to show Southgate why it was a mistake to leave him out of the original selection. The 21-year-old has been one of the standout young Englishmen in the top-flight this season who have been in better form than players who were part of England’s incredible Euro 2020 campaign.
Smith Rowe has been directly involved in six goals for Mikel Arteta’s side and he is flourishing at Emirates Stadium. Now he has the platform to shine for the Three Lions, flying the torch for the fellow English stars knocking on Southgate’s door for a spot in the squad.
There have been several players who will count themselves unfortunate to have not made the cut for the two World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino respectively. One of the brightest prospects in the top flight this year, and also England U21s star, has been Crystal Palace’s Conor Gallagher.
The young Chelsea loanee has been a key cog for Eagles’ boss Patrick Vieira in the Premier League. The 21-year-old has been a major goal threat for the Selhurst Park outfit from midfield and is the club’s joint top goalscorer alongside Wilfried Zaha with four. He has also provided two assists for his side which has made him one of the most in-form players in the division. For now, what is Southgate’s loss, is Carsley’s gain.
The two players who will have the biggest cases for a spot among the Three Lions is AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori and Arsenal’s Ben White. The former Chelsea defender is loving life in Serie A as he is shining in Stefano Pioli’s side and Arsenal’s White has been turning in great performances that has seen the Gunners rapidly climb the Premier League table after a slow start.
The duo have kept nine league clean sheets between them and would arguably be more deserving of a place in Southgate’s squad than some of the defenders that the manager is seemingly showing blind loyalty to, even though some of his key figures have seen their Euros form plummet.
This includes Manchester United’s Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Conor Coady. All players have not been at their best since the Euros, with some poor performances that could have seen them replaced by those consistently performing and more deserving of a place in the England camp.
If these players fail to rediscover their form when domestic football resumes and Southgate continues to select them, questions will be asked of his leadership as his loyalty could be a major setback for the growing English talent starting to blossom at senior level.
England are in action against Albania on Friday night. The Three Lions are 1/9 to win with Betfred, while the away side are 25/1. The draw is 7/1.