Just four years ago, the whole of England was rocked by a humbling 2-1 defeat at the hands of lowly Iceland in the European Championships.
The Three Lions were quietly chuckling to themselves for the first four minutes of that harrowing capitulation, thanks to Wayne Rooney’s early penalty. What followed was one of the worst team performances in football history.
Fortunately for those who sport the roaring lions on their chest, times have changed. Harry Kane is no longer on corner kick duty, Rooney isn’t being crowbarred into the starting XI, and everyone’s favourite grandad Roy Hodgson has been replaced by the hungry and ambitious Gareth Southgate.
To partner that previous bout of luck, the 50-year-old’s reign has coincided with the emergence of an incredibly exciting and dynamic crop of English talents, all desperate to make their mark on the international stage. Such is the plethora of prospects knocking on the door, Southgate dished out six maiden call-ups to the senior squad in his latest selection, as well as welcoming back two semi-familiar faces.
— England (@England) September 3, 2020
England take on Iceland and Denmark in their two Nations League qualifying matches over the next few days, and all of these new recruits will be doing their best to get into their charismatic coach’s good books, in the hope of landing themselves a second audition in October.
So, while this octagon of stars are laughing extra hard at Southgate’s dad jokes, and shouting ‘Great workout gaffer!’ at the end of each training session, 90min has decided to rank these hopefuls on just how likely it’ll be to see them again in an England shirt next month.
— Talking Wolves (@TalkingWolves) August 29, 2020
Wolverhampton Wanderers fans have been calling for this guy to get into the England squad for a couple of seasons now, and all it took was for every centre back to hit rock-bottom form and the star defender to have a scrap in Greece.
Coady is a reliable and stoic defender, and his passion and excitement at receiving his call-up was wonderful to see. However, with Southgate hinting that Harry Maguire will be back in action for the October international matches, it will probably come at the expense of this man.
A steady first reserve.
Recall-Up Probability: 5/10
7. Jack Grealish
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) September 2, 2020
Yes, we know Southgate hates Grealish, and it took half the original squad dropping out for him to eventually pick up the phone and call the Aston Villa star – but here we are. Knowing the Villa captain, he won’t let this chance slip through his fingers.
The 24-year-old doesn’t really fit into the England set-up or system, and that has been reflected in his lack of inclusion since the Villans’ return to the Premier League. But he’s been proving people wrong for years. Give him a chance, and he’ll show the doubters exactly what he’s capable of, across the midfield or out wide.
Still, Southgate hates him, doesn’t he?
Recall-Up Probability: 5.5/10
6. Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Now this is an interesting one. How many people really saw this coming? Not many, I bet. We should have, though. Maitland-Niles is one of the many students benefitting from the Mikel Arteta school of football, and he’s gone from transfer listed to English lion in a matter of days.
The 23-year-old is a manager’s dream (on his day) due to his incredible versatility and clear understanding of the game. Maitland-Niles is improving at a rapid rate at Arsenal, and if he continues on this vertical trajectory, he could be a valuable asset to Southgate and this England team.
Recall-Up Probability: 6/10
5. James Ward-Prowse
Ok, so this ain’t Ward-Prowse’s first rodeo, but he’s no expert, either. The 25-year-old has only made two appearances in an England shirt, the last of those coming in March 2019. So for many of us, his inclusion will have raised some eyebrows.
Not for Southampton supporters, though. Ward-Prowse is a tidy, efficient player who can do a job both in midfield and out wide – offensively and defensively. However, Southgate is pretty well-stocked as far as full-backs and wide forwards go, so his central qualities will be key. He’s pretty handy with a dead ball, too.
Recall-Up Probability: 6.5/10
4. Danny Ings
The most deserved call-up in football history. Like Ward-Prowse, this is not actually Ings’ first dance with the Three Lions, but given his only cap came in 2015, we’ve decided to include him in this prestigious list. Dingo was sensational last season, bagging 22 goals and delivering the most prolific figures of his career.
After all the injuries Ings has suffered in recent years, it’s brilliant to see his fantastic form rewarded on the international scene. Whether he can replicate those heroics is another question entirely. For now though, he’s doing everything right to join back up with the lads in a month’s time.
Recall-Up Probability: 7/10
3. Kalvin Phillips
Phillips has not played a minute of Premier League football, yet finds himself in the England side. For some, he has walked into this team without merit. For the majority, it’s a well-deserved reward and a sign of just how good he is.
The Leeds star has transformed into one of the most efficient and dominant holding midfielders in the country, and under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa, he is only getting better. The Three Lions are really lacking a playmaker who can dictate the game from deep, and if Phillips proves that he can control matches in the top flight too, he should become a regular in Southgate’s plans.
Recall-Up Probability: 7.5/10
2. Mason Greenwood
How good is this kid? Only 18 years of age, Greenwood is already a Manchester United regular, owner of the coveted number 11 shirt at Old Trafford, and now part of the England national team. The teenager’s ability in front of goal (with both feet) is frightening, and his comfort in playing any position across the front three makes him a worthy member of this side.
The feeling surrounding Greenwood is that he’s destined for greatness, and Southgate will embrace having such a raw, expressive talent around the squad. At such a tender age, it’s imperative that he is nurtured and looked after, but there’s no reason to send him back to train with the Under-21s any time soon.
Recall-Up Probability: 8/10
1. Phil Foden
It’s about damn time. It feels like a lifetime that we’ve been screaming for Phil Foden to pull on the England shirt, and he will finally enjoy that honour against Iceland on Saturday.
The 20-year-old has demonstrated his ability to rise to any challenge during his growth at Manchester City, and thanks to the incomparable lessons learned under Pep Guardiola, his time has finally come.
Foden can play in midfield, behind the striker or out wide, and this versatility can never be underestimated. The hype surrounding the City youngster is palpable, and rightly so – he’s going to grab this opportunity, and never let go.
Recall-Up Probability: 9/10