Newcastle United’s reserve goalkeeper between the sticks, and Harry Maguire as captain (obviously) and the second best striker in the Premier League are at the top of this England.
Disclaimer: To be eligible, players must have started their career at a Football League club and have played at least 100 Premier League matches before moving to the Premier League.
With the moderator out of the way, here’s the #MadeInTheFootballLeague England XI which may not be quite as good as Gareth Southgate would prefer, but at least it’s more creative…
Goalkeeper: Karl Darlow
We’re scraping the barrel a bit already here, although that’s hidden by the shock of discovering that hot young prospect Darlo – made in Nottingham Forest, of course – is now 31.
The Newcastle United reserve for England was recently selected at the beginning of 2021. But he dropped the criticism standings at St James’ Park, having played only nine times since the start of the 2021/22 campaign.
A massive injury crisis would be required for Darlow to get a sniff of the actual Three Lions.
Right-back: Jed Spence
Now we have the new £20m Tottenham Hotspur man, who was one of the best defenders in the tournament in 2021/22 while on loan to Nottingham Forest.
Playing under Antonio Conte has always been another level of challenge for the 22-year-old. This proved to be the case as Spence played just one minute in the Premier League.
Spence still plays a supporting role for Emerson Royal, who was last season’s trash (Barcelona ‘couldn’t believe’ Tottenham paid £25.8m for him). However, Conte waved his magic wand to turn the royal into a competent footballer. The angry Italian is really good at his job.
Central Defence: Harry Maguire
Here we have our first regular England squad right, and who better to kick us than everyone’s favorite defender (chiseled out of Sheffield’s steel)?
The Man United captain is going through a difficult phase as he is currently keeping the bench warm at Old Trafford.
Apparently, he might be hoping that Raphael Varane gets injured again because otherwise, he won’t be playing much between now and the World Cup. Gareth Southgate has his favorites and Maguire certainly among them.
But even Southgate has already stated that the defender’s situation at United is “not ideal” ahead of England’s inevitable quarter-final exit in Qatar.
Central Defence: James Tarkowski
The two-match England international Tarkowski was a strong addition to Everton in the summer and on a free transfer, signing him was a no-brainer.
Frank Lampard had to build a better defensive quartet after the chaos of last season, Tarkowski – who did his best at Oldham and Brentford – and Conor Cody was quick to bolster their defence.
You have to go back to 2018 for the former Burnley man’s last appearance for England. This is unfair given how consistent it is with Claret.
He wouldn’t be far off a call in the winter if his positive early season form continues in the next few months.
Left-back: Rico Henry
This is a fun one. England have a few left-backs to choose from, but Southgate often selects a versatile and experienced – but undeniably right-back – Kieran Trippier to play there.
But with Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell not playing for Manchester United or Chelsea, Henry may eventually get the same attention as his teammate Evan Toni.
The former England Under-20 international was one of Brentford’s rising stars in the Premier League after reaching the First Division, and as a natural full-back in the modern era, he’s ticked a lot of boxes.
Midfield: Louis O’Brien
Given how the law of averages works, the only Nottingham Forest player on this list had to be one of 23 summer signings.
A former goal at Leeds United and Huddersfield Town’s O’Brien has made a good start in life as a Premier League player, while the same cannot be said for Steve Cooper’s fitness-lack side.
The 23-year-old bagged the top scorer in the devastating 3-2 loss to Fulham on Friday, which looked a lot better than the Aston Villa blunder against Southampton that most of us have seen.
While Forrest will likely drop out straight, O’Brien is one of the players likely to continue in the Premier League and England’s invitation – even if only for one time – will eventually come.
Midfield: Calvin Phillips
His £45m move to Manchester City from Leeds United hasn’t gone well so far, has it?
You’d be forgiven for forgetting this transfer until it happened because Phillips has only played 14 minutes so far this season.
Injuries hampered him early in his career at the Etihad, which is a huge shame after he has shone as a Leeds United player in the Premier League, especially under Marcelo Bielsa.
Phillips was an integral part of Southgate alongside Declan Rice in the 2021 Euros, but He may already be out of the World Cup due to injury.
Right: Jarrod Bowen
The former Hull City winger Bowen applied to play for England earlier this year after being legitimately one of the Premier League’s most prominent players in 2021/22.
The 25-year-old was affected by the 1-0 loss to Hungary before withdrawing in the first half* in that 4-0 defeat that followed shortly after.
Eighteenth-placed West Ham have been easy going in the early weeks of this season, and Bowen is among the players struggling for a level. Let’s face it, he was lucky to stay in the team.
Central offensive midfield: Iberichi Ezy
Oh yeah, I’m all of this. The former England Under-21 international missed most of last season through injury but is now back to his best under Patrick Vieira.
Eze is pretty good at watching when it’s fully tilted. Having (made at QPR), Michael Ulis and Wilfried Zaha on one team is an impressive prospect.
Low-key Vieira put one of the most exciting front lines in the league and my favorite Eazy is a vital part of that.
If he’s avoiding injuries, surely it will only be a better time before clubs come cursing about Eze, and an England call should be on its way as well.
Left: Sully March
It was only fair that at least one Brighton player made the cut amid his exciting start to the 2022/23 season.
The Seagulls are everyone’s second favorite (unless you’re a Crystal Palace fan) and Mars have been a strong supporter of their team over the past two seasons.
The 28-year-old has already earned legend status at the club having managed to stay in the fold after reaching the Premier League in 2017.
Mars has gone under the radar compared to Azandro Trossard and Pascal Gross, but he did very well.
Striker: Evan Toni
This is the key player, the second best striker in the Premier League (Erling Haaland is not human) at the moment.
Well, maybe not, but Toney has the best goals per 90 minutes Harry Kane and Alexander Mitrovic come out. This is the only law that matters; For the purposes of this argument anyway.
But like Lampard, after laughs, let’s be serious. Tony does his best to force himself onto that plane.
The Brentford striker took no time to adjust to life in the Premier League last season (he has now scored goals in all four divisions) and has started this campaign with a big hit, scoring five goals in seven games.
No one will stand a chance of playing Harry Kane, but Tony – at least in good shape – is comfortably seated as Southgate’s second choice.