When Gareth Southgate turned up at St James Park for the Crystal Palace match last month, it was assumed he had come along to watch the likes of Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey ahead of picking his next England squad.
With friendlies against Brazil and Germany, it was seemingly a chance for the failed club manager to try something new with England.
Naming a 25 man squad, Gareth Southgate ignored the Newcastle players, choosing instead to pick the likes of Ashley Young who turns 23 in July, plus southern based younger players such as Winks, Abraham, and Palace’s Loftus-Cheek.
With six players (so far) dropping out, Gareth Southgate has responded by calling up three replacements.
Michael Keane who has been woeful for Everton since his move from Burnley, plus midfielders Jake Livermore and Jack Cork.
Choosing to leave the other gaps unfilled, Southgate has ignored Jonjo Shelvey.
Whilst Livermore and Cork are two solid hard working Premier League midfielders, I don’t think any neutral would see them as potentially being first choice for England.
Shelvey may have his faults but he has shown in the past that he can do it for England and with his range of passing, definitely has a talent that could be used against the very best.
Gareth Southgate, when announcing his squad, claimed it was ‘An opportunity to look at new players and a different way of playing’.
Looking at his selection, it looks just the same as normal, boring robot central midfielders who will pass sideways and backwards, achieving next to little apart from keeping the ball in safe areas.
In all, Southgate has called up 28 players for this squad, including replacements. They are drawn from 14 different Premier League clubs but interestingly not one from the three promoted clubs.
Burnley – Jack Cork
Chelsea – Gary Cahill
Crystal Palace – Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Everton – Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford
Leicester – Harry Maguire, Jamie Vardy
Liverpool – Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson
Man City – John Stones, Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph
Man Utd – Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Ashley Young
Southampton – Ryan Bertrand
Stoke – Jack Butland
Swansea – Tammy Abraham
Tottenham – Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Dele Alli, Harry Winks, Harry Kane
West Brom – Jake Livermore
West Ham – Joe Hart
“We always wanted to look at the team and how it might evolve, and these two matches give us an opportunity to look at new players and a different way of playing.
“These are opportunities to test ourselves. We could try things against lesser opposition and it could go well, but we wouldn’t really know where we stand.
“With the two games we’ve got, it will be a really good barometer of the level of performance [required]. They will be a really good benchmark.”
“We qualified with an excellent record. We want to improve our performances. These matches will excite the public, they will excite the players, and I think we will have two really good crowds at Wembley.”