Gareth Southgate Should Look To the Championship for Potential England Players

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England managers all seem to follow the same pattern. Selecting their squad from teams only in the top flight. There are plenty of great players in the Championship that deserve selection. Gareth Southgate needs to break this mould and look to the Championship for new England players.

Championship Is Breeding Ground for Potential England Players

Goalkeepers

Southgate selected two goalkeepers for the March internationals. As normal, they are both from Premier League clubs. Jordan Pickford of Everton and Nick Pope from Burnley. Both clubs are currently towards the bottom of the Premier League.

Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Lee Nicholls deserves to be in the next England squad. Although the Terriers are not currently in the top flight, they have had a recent visit. Huddersfield are also currently in the playoff positions this season. Instrumental in that has been Nicholls.

Arriving as a free agent, Nicholls is the number 1 keeper at Town. The Terrier has played 38 matches in the Championship and has kept, at the time of writing 16 clean sheets. In terms of percentages, that is an impressive 41% clean sheets.

Compare this to the recently selected players Pickford and Pope. Everton’s Pickford has played 25 matches with only four clean sheets. In percentage terms that is a miserable 16%. Pickford tends to be the first choice as England goalkeeper, but his stats compared to Nicholls are awful.

Burnley’s Nick Pope stats are better than those of Pickford. The Burnley keeper has played the same amount of matches as Pickford, but has more clean sheets. Pope has 7 clean sheets, a percentage of 28%. These stats would seem OK until compared to Huddersfield Town’s Nicholls.

Everton and Burnley have both had poor seasons, whereas Huddersfield have exceeded expectations again. Nicholls has made some vital saves that have kept the Terriers in matches, that other keepers probably would not have managed to make.

Strikers

Southgate selected Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur and Raheem Stirling from Manchester City as two of his six strikers. Between them they have a combined total of 22 goals. 12 for Kane and 10 for Stirling. In the Championship there is a striker that has more goals than their combined total alone.

Dominic Solanke of AFC Bournemouth. The 24-year-old has played 36 matches and scored 23 goals. Bournemouth have been impressive this season and sit second in the Championship, just below Fulham and just above Huddersfield. Solanke also has six assists. Some may argue that the Championship is a weaker league than the Premier League which is why Solanke is so far ahead on goals. Others say that the Championship is the more competitve league, as it is not dominated by the same few clubs.

Solanke also deserves selection to the England squad, as the top English goal scorer the Bournemouth striker should be first named striker on the team sheet. What more does the 24-year-old have to do to get selected besides being in the top flight?

It’s time that England managers looked further than the Premier League or Bundesliga for new England players. Come on Gareth, be the first to break the mould. Look down the leagues and pick players on stats not just because their club is in the top flight.

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