Man Utd and Tottenham defenders feature Football League stars in England XI
Newcastle United’s backup goalkeeper between the sticks, Harry Maguire as captain (obviously) and the Premier League’s second best striker in the lead for this England.
Disclaimer: To be eligible players must have started their career at a Football League club and made at least 100 EFL league appearances before moving to the Premier League.
With the admin out of the way, here’s a #MadeInTheFootballLeague England XI that might not be as good as Gareth Southgate’s favorite XI, but it’s at least more creative…
Goalkeeper: Karl Darlow
We’re already scraping the barrel a bit here, although that’s hidden behind the shock of finding out that hot young prospect Darlow – made at Nottingham Forest, of course – is now 31.
The Newcastle United replacement has been tipped for England at the start of 2021. But he has dropped out of the pecking order at St James’ Park, playing just nine times since the start of the 2021/22 campaign.
A colossal injury crisis will be needed for Darlow to feel the real Three Lions.
Right-back: Djed Spence
Now we have Tottenham Hotspur’s new £20m man, who was one of the best defenders in the Championship in 2021/22 while on loan at Nottingham Forest.
Playing under Antonio Conte was always going to be a whole new level of challenge for the 22-year-old. And that turned out to be the case as Spence only played one minute in the Premier League.
Spence still plays a supporting role for Emerson Royal, who sucked last season (Barcelona ‘couldn’t believe’ Tottenham paid £25.8m for him). Still, Conte waved his magic wand to make Royal a competent footballer; the angry Italian is really good at his job.
Centre-back: Harry Maguire
Here we have the first regular from the right England side, and who better to get us started than everyone’s favorite defender (cut in steel in Sheffield)?
The Man Utd captain is going through a tough time as he is currently keeping the substitutes’ bench warm at Old Trafford.
On the sly, he may be hoping Raphael Varane gets injured again because otherwise he won’t be playing much until the World Cup. Gareth Southgate has his favorites and Maguire is certainly one of them.
But even Southgate has already said the defender’s situation at United “isn’t ideal” ahead of England’s inevitable quarter-final exit in Qatar.
England squad: Harry Maguire is the least shocking of all shock inclusions
Central defender: James Tarkowski
Two-cap England international Tarkowski was a solid addition for Everton this summer and on a free transfer signing him was a no-brainer.
Frank Lampard had to build a better back four after last season’s mess, and Tarkowski – who did the tough yards at Oldham and Brentford – and Conor Coady were quick to bolster their defence.
We have to go back to 2018 for the last appearance of the ex-Burnley for England. It’s quite unfair considering his consistency with the Clarets.
He will not be far from being recalled this winter if his good form at the start of the season continues over the next few months.
Left back: Rico Henry
Here’s a fun one. England have a few left-backs to choose from, but Southgate often opt for the versatile and experienced – but undeniably right-back – Kieran Trippier to play there.
But with Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell not playing at Man Utd or Chelsea, Henry could possibly receive the same attention as team-mate Ivan Toney.
The former England Under-20 international was one of Brentford’s star performers in the Premier League after arriving in the top flight and as a modern-day natural winger he ticks many boxes.
Central midfielder: Lewis O’Brien
Given how the law of averages works, the only Nottingham Forest player on this list had to be one of their 23 summer signings.
Former Leeds United target and Huddersfield Town stalwart O’Brien has had a great start to life as a Premier League player, while the same can’t be said for the out-of-form squad by Steve Cooper.
The 23-year-old got on the scoresheet in Friday’s 3-2 defeat to Fulham, which sounded much better than the Aston Villa dross against Southampton that most of us watched.
Although it seems likely that Forest will go straight back down, O’Brien is a player who is likely to continue in the Premier League and an England call-up – even if just for one cap – will come eventually.
Central midfielder: Kalvin Phillips
His £45million move to Manchester City from Leeds United hasn’t gone well so far, has it?
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that this transfer even happened as Phillips has only played a total of 14 minutes so far this season.
Injuries have prevented him from getting off to a good start at the Etihad, which is a real shame after shining as a Leeds United player in the Premier League, especially under Marcelo Bielsa.
Phillips was an integral part of Southgate alongside Declan Rice at Euros 2021, but he may already be out of the World Cup due to injury.
Right Winger: Jarrod Bowen
Former Hull City winger Bowen broke through to play for England earlier this year after being rightfully one of the Premier League’s best performers in 2021/22.
The 25-year-old impressed in the 1-0 defeat to Hungary before being dragged down at half-time in *that* 4-0 loss that followed just over a week later.
18th-placed West Ham have been screwed up in the opening weeks of this season and Bowen is among the players struggling for form. Let’s face it, he was lucky to stay in the team.
Central attacking midfielder: Eberechi Eze
Oh yes, I completely agree. The former England U21 international missed most of last season through injury but is now back to his best under Patrick Vieira.
Eze is brilliant to watch when he’s on full throttle. Having him (done at QPR), Michael Olise and Wilfried Zaha in a squad is an exciting prospect.
Vieira has quietly put together one of the most exciting forward lines in the league and my personal favorite Eze is a vital part of that.
If he avoids injury it will surely only be a better time before clubs come sniffing around Eze, and an England call-up should also be in the works.
Left winger: Solly March
It seemed only right that at least one Brighton player made the cut amid their sensational start to the 2022/23 campaign.
The Seagulls are everyone’s second favorite club (unless you’re a Crystal Palace fan) and March has been a mainstay in their squad for the past two seasons.
The 28-year-old has already earned club legend status after successfully staying in the fold after joining the Premier League in 2017.
March went under the radar compared to Lisandro Trossard and Pascal Gross, but he performed damn well.
Attacker: Ivan Toney
Here is the main man, 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 minute rate of him, Harry Kane and Aleksandar Mitrovic. That’s the only stat that matters; for the purposes of this argument anyway.
But à la Lampard, after a chuckle, let’s get serious. Toney does his best to force himself onto that plane.
The Brentford forward didn’t take long to adjust to life in the Premier League last season (he’s now scored in all four divisions) and he’s kicked off this campaign with a bang, scoring five goals in seven games.
No one will have the chance to play ahead of Harry Kane but Toney – in form at least – sits comfortably as Southgate’s second choice.