The Three Lions take on Italy and Germany in their final matches before flying to Qatar this month. England travel to the San Siro on September 23 to meet the Azzurri, before hosting Die Mannschaft at Wembley on the 26th to finish League A Group 3 of the Nations League.
Southgate has named an expanded 28-man squad for England’s September schedule with an eye toward the World Cup. Included was a maiden call-up at any level for Brentford ace Ivan Toney, and Tottenham Hotspur’s Eric Dier returns for the first time since March 2021.
A few within the Three Lions fold may feel fortunate to feature in Southgate’s plans for the Nations League. While a number of stars the England boss has omitted may feel aggrieved to have been overlooked, despite impressing at domestic level with their respective teams.
Clearly, Southgate’s options will be wide open when it comes to naming his England squad for the Qatar World Cup. But he can still look outside of his tried-and-trusted options for a player who may add something new at the first Fifa tournament played in the Middle East.
So, with that in mind, HITC Sport look at seven players who can declare for England ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar who are yet to play on the senior international stage…
Gareth Southgate should try and tempt Michael Olise to declare for England
One player whom Southgate should try and tempt to declare for England is Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise. The 20-year-old was born in London, but has played his international football with France at U18 and U21 levels without any caps within the Young Lions ranks.
Olise has only played once for Les Bleus’ U21s, with a 26 minute cameo against the Faroe Islands this March for his debut. But by featuring in the UEFA European U21 Championship qualifying game, England chiefs now fear Olise will declare his footballing future to France.
“I’ve seen he’s been called up the Under-21s with France. At the minute I would say that [a no to England] would be the case,” U21 coach Lee Carsley said, via The Athletic. “Like a lot of players with dual nationality, it is their right. We can’t guarantee them anything.”
Carsley had made Olise aware of England’s interest before he accepted France’s U21 call-up. The Young Lions chief sought to bring the forward – also eligible for Nigeria – into his squad after impressing for Crystal Palace with a dynamic and creative attacking presence.
Real Sociedad striker Momo Cho can chose to declare for England or France
Real Sociedad forward Momo Cho can chose to declare for England or France ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. The 18-year-old has already enjoyed youth-level appearances for both nations, with U15 and U16 Young Lions caps and Les Bleus outings at U17, U19 and U21.
Cho was born in the French commune of Stains, a northern suburb of Paris, but spent a lot of his youth in England. He joined Everton’s academy from Paris Saint-Germain at the age of 11, with the striker moving regularly as his parents worked in London, per the Mirror.
The striker would not breakthrough at Goodison Park before joining Angers SCO’s U19s in 2020. There, Cho blossomed and secured a €12-15m (£10.5-13m) switch to Real Sociedad this July. He has already started to impress in Spain with an assist against Atletico Madrid.
Celtic star Matt O’Riley can declare for England after latest Denmark snub
Celtic star Matt O’Riley could become one of the latest players to declare for England after Denmark snubbed the midfielder. The 21-year-old is eligible to represent the Three Lions as he was born in London, but can opt for Denmark or Norway through his mum’s family.
Reports by The Scottish Sun noted this January that O’Riley would be interested in playing for either nation if selected. Carsley and his Youth Lions team were also scouting him while playing for MK Dons, before he got a £1.5m before add-ons move to Parkhead last winter.
Ange Postecoglou is proving O’Riley can offer a strong creative threat from central midfield if called up at international level. But Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand does not feel he is at a level ready for the Nations League, and chose to leave him to play U21 action this month.
Will Smallbone not looking to follow Declan Rice and Jack Grealish
Southgate has already enjoyed success at convincing players who have dual-nationality to declare for England, like Declan Rice and Jack Grealish. But the Three Lions boss would be faced with resistance if he tries to get Will Smallbone to also ditch the Republic of Ireland.
“My mum has loved me playing for Ireland,” the Basingstoke native told the Irish Examiner in 2020. “I’ve always played for Ireland growing up through the age groups and I’d love to go into the senior squad. I’ve very much only ever looked forward to playing for Ireland.”
But via being born in Basingstoke to a mother from Kilkenny, Smallbone can switch over to England. The Southampton product, currently on loan at Stoke City, is still yet to make the step up to the senior level as Boys in Green boss Stephen Kenny currently looks elsewhere.
England can avoid Lukas Nmecha repeat with younger brother Felix
England can look to avoid a repeat of losing Lukas Nmecha to Germany by tempting Felix, the Wolfsburg player’s younger brother, to declare for Southgate’s side. The Three Lions had given Lukas caps at U16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 levels before his U21 debut for Germany.
Lukas would make his senior bow for Die Mannschaft in November 2021, and now boasts six caps. Hansi Flick beat Southgate to the punch by naming the former Manchester City talent in his Germany squad after a strong start at Wolfsburg and winning the U21 Euros.
The Nmecha brothers were eligible to declare for both Germany and England, having been born in Hamburg but raised in Manchester. Now, Felix is on route to follow in Lukas’ tracks after making his Germany U21 debut this March after Young Lions U16, U18 and U19 caps.
Felix also left Manchester City for Wolfsburg over the summer of 2021 like Lukas, who cost £11m. The 21-year-old midfielder is now showing his worth in the Bundesliga, having been a key part of the Citizens’ U18 and U23 units, while also impressing during EFL Trophy ties.
Bright Arrey-Mbi has already shown he will turn his back on England for Germany
Bright Arrey-Mbi has already shown he will turn his back on England for Germany for the chance to progress in international football. The Young Lions gave the centre-half his first taste of international action in 2018, and he made eight U15 caps before returning home.
He was born in Kaarst, a town just outside of Dusseldorf, but moved to England at an early age. Arrey-Mbi also played in Norwich City and Chelsea’s academies before joining Bayern Munich’s academy in 2019. Now, the 19-year-old is on loan with Hannover in 2.Bundesliga.
Mark McGuinness is not afraid to make big decisions on international career
Mark McGuinness is not afraid to make the big decisions over his international career after turning England down in the past. The 21-year-old snubbed the Three Lions to feature with the Republic of Ireland’s U19 and U21 ranks, whilst also leaving Arsenal’s academy in 2021.
He left the Gunners’ grades for Cardiff City after his first taste first-team football on loan to Ipswich Town. McGuinness – now on loan to Sheffield Wednesday – also turned down the chance to play with Northern Ireland, the country of the Slough native’s father, in the past.
“There was always interest, and other things,” the centre-half told the Irish Independent in March. “But my heart was always set on playing here. It’s difficult because when you are a young player at Arsenal, it’s always going to be people asking questions.
“But I was very clear where I wanted to go and play. That was here. That was my first taste of it [the Victory Shield with the Republic’s U16s in 2016]. Once I had that, I was hooked.”