Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi gets England call-up

Leave a comment

Gareth Southgate doesn’t wait too long to get a look at England’s youngest prospects.

The Three Lions manager has called up Chelsea’s Callum-Hudson Odoi to the team for this week’s EURO 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

[ MORE: PL Player of Year candidates ]

Hudson-Odoi, just 18, has made 19 appearances for Chelsea this season in all competitions, with five goals. Four of those have come in the Europa League and another in the FA Cup.

To be fair, Southgate’s impressions of Hudson-Odoi extend much further back than this season and the transfer window’s buzz regarding Bayern Munich’s interest in him. Hudson-Odoi has played at most youth levels for England, including its triumph in U-17 World Cup.

Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse was also called into the squad on Monday.

Declan Rice gets first England call-up after winning Irish award

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Tuesday, it was announced that Declan Rice had been selected for Ireland’s Young Player of the Year award, though he will not be present to celebrate his honor at an awards ceremony on Sunday.

[ MORE: Pep Guardiola loving life as “bold” Man City advances in UCL ]

That’s because the 20-year-old will be with the England team after receiving his first call-up after switching international allegiances earlier this year. The call came from Gareth Southgate‘s Three Lions on Wednesday and will have Rice in camp for EURO 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

“His form warrants it,” Southgate said of West Ham’s rising star. “It’s been a well-publicized situation with Declan. We’ve tracked him for quite a while … His form has been excellent. We like what we see. … There aren’t many players of his age playing as well as he is in the Premier League.”

England’s 25-man squad

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke City), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester City), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Declan Rice (West Ham United), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)

Reports: Simeone, Southgate on Manchester United’s list

Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It seems Manchester United’s pursuit of a new manager has not lost any steam, even as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer puts his undefeated Manchester United record on the line Sunday.

The Red Devils have been linked with two more names this weekend, one a long-time whisper and the other a bit of a surprise.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

The Daily Mirror reports that Diego Simeone has been “sounded out” by United’s brass, with 18 months left on his Atletico Madrid contract and La Liga’s mainstays actively seeking to extend his 7-year reign in Spain.

And United is also considering England boss Gareth Southgate as an option, according to Sky Sports, touting the manager’s acumen in developing young players and strong reputation in the soccer community.

The two options could hardly be more different, or less likely. Simeone is a no-brainer for literally any open job on Earth, while Southgate’s flower has just bloomed and is merely a prospect having held one Premier League job at the club level.

Simeone is a master tactician capable of leading an aggressive attack, but more likely to err on the side prudent of than free-flowing at all costs, especially in big matches.

A fireball on the sidelines, Simeone also has a resume reputation few managers can touch. He won La Liga during the Ronaldo-Messi era in 2013-14, twice claimed the Europa League, has won the Copa del Rey, and was a two-time Champions League runner-up all while dealing with sales of Theo Hernandez, Arda Turan, Mario Mandzukic, Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa, and David De Gea (who has since returned).

As for Southgate, his reputation has grown in a big way since leading England to the 2018 World Cup semifinal and the inaugural UEFA Nations League knockout rounds. He has unrivaled job security in terms of the Three Lions job, having led England’s U-21 to the Toulon Tournament title and helped developed many of their stars.

But his club experience as a manager is less impressive, winning 29 percent of his games at Middlesbrough over three seasons. He led Boro to 12th, 13th, and 19th place Premier League finishes, and left the relegated club in its first season during the Championship.

Southgate would still, of course, be an attractive option.

Southgate: England ‘has to get used to’ being favorites

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gareth Southgate has officially taken the training wheels off of his England national team after the Three Lions were drawn into what has widely been dubbed an easy group for 2020 European Championship qualification.

[ MERSEYSIDE: Insane late goal gifts Liverpool derby win over Everton ]

Drawn alongside the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo, Southgate acknowledges the fact that England will be expected to win the group. In his mind, accepting and learning to deal with the tag of “favorites” will be an important next step in their progression toward winning a major tournament — quotes from the Guardian:

“We’re favorites, and that’s something we’ve got to start getting used to anyway. We’re going to have high expectations over the next few years, and adapting to that is probably key to our development as a team now.

“We should win the group. But if you don’t play well on any given day, you drop points and that is the reality of dealing with those sorts of matches. Nobody’s going to expect me to stand there and say it’s done already and we should just prepare for 18 months’ time.

“I think that’s where the competition for places is really important, because if our players think there’s comfort from the fixtures, then there isn’t comfort for a position in the team or in the squad. And that means that the motivation for training every day, which is what you take into your games, is really high.”

Southgate: ‘Hungry’ Harry Kane ‘best goalscorer in the world’

AP Photo/Rui Vieira
Leave a comment

There’s no better goalscorer in the world than Harry Kane, according to England boss Gareth Southgate.

[ MORE: UEFA Nations League: England reach finals; Belgium capitulate ]

Whether or not he’s bagging a goal every game, every other game or once every eight games — as was the case coming into Sunday’s pivotal UEFA Nations League finale against Croatia — Southgate backs a “hungry” Kane over any other forward in the world. It’s not just the goals that Kane scores, but his all-around game that allows him to impact the Three Lions in so many different ways — quotes from the Guardian:

“Harry is the best goalscorer in the world. You’re always loth to take a player off of his ability. I know people have questioned some of those decisions over the summer but he’s our main penalty-taker, our leader. In 98% of the games, his hold-up play and goalscoring is critical. He played a fantastic pass for Raheem Sterling after dropping off deep and turning in the first half. We have huge belief in him. He is so hungry to lead the team on.”

Never mind the fact that England don’t have another forward with a comparable set of skills which would allow them to play in a similar way, should Kane be dropped from the lineup for a meaningful game.

[ MORE: Lingard: Making it to Nations League finals is “what we want” ]

Kane only turned 25 this summer, and has already amassed 20 international goals in just 35 appearances (in four years since making his England debut). If he remains the first-choice no. 9 until he’s 30 — let alone a year or two beyond that — he’ll get dangerously close to breaking Wayne Rooney‘s record of 53 England goals and going down as the best the Three Lions have ever had. Prior to his recent goal-less skid, which would have reached a full eight games had he not grabbed the late winner on Sunday, those numbers stood at 19 goals in 27 appearances — clearly an unsustainable, but otherworldly goal-scoring pace.

Kane’s rise to prominence — and ultimately, superstardom — came so abruptly and unexpectedly that so many fans and pundits appear to be still waiting for the other shoe to drop on the impostor who could never actually be as good as everyone else thinks he is. After five full years of prolific goal-scoring for club and country, it’s probably time we start giving Kane a bit more benefit of the doubt.