Euro 2020: English stars who have to make an impact against Poland to win place in the selection of Southgate
After two superficial wins over San Marino and Albania, England’s qualifying campaign for the World Cup really takes it up a notch when they meet Poland on Wednesday evening.
Although the visitors to Wembley will be on the attack without their injured star player Robert Lewandowski, they should still cause England a lot of trouble.
Opportunities are now scarce for Gareth Southgate to assess how his youthful and exciting side is facing stiff opposition for this summer’s European Championship.
Time is running out for Gareth Southgate to complete his UK selection for Euro 2020
England have started their World Cup qualifying campaign strongly with consecutive wins
This is also the last game the Three Lions will play before Southgate has to select its 23-man squad for Euro 2020.
Harry Kane, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling and Harry Maguire are already certainties, but there are still many who have to put in a convincing performance against Poland to be sure of their place.
We take a look at the players who desperately want to impress and book their ticket for the euro on Wednesday evening.
Lingard’s late attack on England for the summer is perfectly timed. He has combined a revived club form he has loaned to West Ham with an outstanding performance in last Thursday’s 5-0 thrashing of San Marino.
All that was missing was a goal to mark his first appearance in England since the summer of 2019, but it wasn’t to try, with San Marino goalkeeper Elia Benedettini denying him time and again.
Lingard only played as a late substitute in Sunday’s 2-0 win in Albania, suggesting that Southgate might give him another chance to impress against the tougher opposition in Poland.
There is no doubt that Lingard is once again playing as a man enjoying his football again and despite England’s abundance of wealth in attacking territories, he can secure himself a place on the squad with another positive performance here.
Jesse Lingard got a lot of shooting opportunities against San Marino, but was unable to score
Kyle Walker’s versatility on the right side of the defense makes him a likely choice for the euro
Walker did not play against San Marino when Southgate returned to a back-four, but returned against Albania where he was able to show his offensive qualities of the right back.
The Manchester City man, 30, feared his England career was over when he was sent off against Iceland last September, but the consistent club form has kept the door very open.
With Southgate hoping to make his team more flexible and equally comfortable by playing a 3-4-2-1 or a 4-3-3 for the euro, Walker is a good addition.
He can play as a conventional right back or as the right center back in the three. That almost guarantees his selection, but he can confirm this with a good performance against Poland.
James looked really good against San Marino, with his attacking instinct and especially eye-catching.
The Chelsea man has made the step from Under 21 to senior international football effortless with that red card after the final whistle against Denmark, the only black spot to date.
But Southgate wouldn’t have learned much from the San Marino game, so James really has to continue with his high standards if he were to start against Poland.
The competition for places for his position is arguably the most intense in the entire squad, with Trent Alexander-Arnold the shocking omission of this latest squad.
With Walker, Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier to compete against, James really has to show his best with just three seats likely to be available by Summer 23.
Reece James has the chance to take his place in the midst of a plethora of right backs
England isn’t as blessed as a left back, but Luke Shaw’s return to form at Manchester United this season now presents stiff competition for Chelsea man Chilwell.
He responded as best he could in the win over San Marino, putting down the opening goal for James Ward-Prowse and presenting a threat.
But Shaw then played well against Albania, swinging into the cross from which Kane headed the English opener late in the first half.
It’s a full-blown firefight between the couple and whoever gets the nod to Poland, a hugely superior opposition to last week, could just give a big clue to Southgate’s thinking for the summer.
Ben Chilwell (right) is competing with Luke Shaw to be England’s left back this summer
Dreams came true for Watkins as he came off the bench to score his first goal for England to round out last week’s victory over San Marino, marking a remarkable rise from League Two to the very highest level.
It was the last milestone for the 25-year-old, who made the transition to the Premier League look easy after leaving Brentford for Aston Villa in the summer.
There will likely be room for two backup forwards to support Harry Kane in this summer’s England squad. Barring an injury to the skipper, the other two know their impact will most likely come from the bench.
There isn’t a plethora of possible options and with that goal last week, Watkins probably did enough to nod along with Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Ollie Watkins is harassed after scoring his first international goal in the win over San Marino
The 17-year-old rising star gathered his second English cap as a substitute against San Marino and performed competently enough against modest opposition.
Bellingham didn’t play against Albania and will likely be called on the bench again against Poland, so should have some impact later in the game.
His place in the 23 for the summer is far from guaranteed. He lacks the experience of any other midfield candidate and places are tight.
But that in no way diminishes his form from Borussia Dortmund this season, which has been very encouraging, and sometimes international managers like to go for a wildcard. Do you remember Theo Walcott in 2006?
If he doesn’t make it to the final, Bellingham knows he has plenty of time on his side and will almost certainly be honoring many England squads in the years to come.
17-year-old Jude Bellingham (left) hopes to make his way to the Euro 2020 team
Calvert-Lewin is in brilliant scoring form and certainly won against San Marino, his two goals boosted his international score to four.
Talking about players taking on irresistible forms leading up to a major tournament, Calvert-Lewin could be the definition after his 19 Everton goals and counting this season.
You’d put him in the offensive pecking order just above Watkins to be second choice for Kane in the summer – and with good reason.
If Calvert-Lewin got off the bench and scored the winner against Poland on Wednesday night, you might as well stamp his spot for the summer now.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is in excellent shape, scoring twice in the win over San Marino
Southgate really wanted to get a closer look at Phillips on this latest set of internationals, starting against both San Marino and Albania.
The Leeds midfielder, who came to England in Nations League games last fall, was solid, but not spectacular, which is exactly what is expected of him.
He probably won’t start against Poland, which is a shame as it would have been interesting to see how he had faced the superior opposition that hadn’t started against Belgium last year either.
It suggests that Southgate knows its midfield pairing for the summer, but there is still a good chance that Phillips will take a place in the squad.
Kalvin Phillips will face stiff competition to secure a place in England’s midfield this summer
There is good competition for the center-back’s positions, although Maguire and Stones can be expected to be the pair to oust.
If Southgate goes for the three-man options, we’ll likely see Maguire, John Stones and Walker in that position.
But others have really pushed their case in recent months, including Coady and Tyrone Mings, who really didn’t do much wrong when called upon.
Coady had partnered with Stones against San Marino and hadn’t exactly gotten through a tough night and didn’t play against Albania. Mings, meanwhile, replaced Stones for the second half last Thursday.
Seats will be tight for the summer and depending on how many wingback options Southgate wants. But Coady and Mings may have gone before Eric Dier and everyone else to support Maguire and Stones.
Conor Coady (right) has not set foot wrong in the colors of England and could make the squad