An international break arguably couldn’t have come at a better time for Newcastle United.
Following a dismal display against Southampton in our most recent Premier League game and with injury concerns to some marquee players, the fortnight break from club football is more than welcome.
It provides a rare opportunity for Steve Bruce and the squad to recuperate before we return to action against Chelsea later this month.
However, international fixtures are designed to showcase the very best talent a nation can rely upon on, and after Gareth Southgate’s squad selection was released, Newcastle fans were among many to question the England boss’s strange and all too similar selections.
Wilson Stays at Home
The 2020/21 Premier League season has seen star-making performances from English strikers. Harry Kane with 8 assists, including 4 in one game against Southampton, Dominic Calvert-Lewin being the league’s joint top goal scorer, and Danny Ings continuing his fine form from the last campaign as his side incredibly find themselves in the top 4.
Callum Wilson is not far behind these players. Scoring 6 goals in 8 league appearances, Wilson has been a much needed shot in the arm for a Newcastle side that so often lacks an attacking presence.
With this in mind it seems an absolutely mind-boggling decision from Southgate to omit the Newcastle striker from his squad, especially as Tammy Abraham earned a place.
*Cough cough* Top six *Cough cough*…
It must be admitted that although Wilson must feel hard done by, the abundance of English strikers on offer does boast well for our national team. While our forwards may be flourishing, our goalkeepers are certainly floundering…
Little Arms Takes Flight
England no.1 Jordan Pickford has made calamitous mistake after calamitous mistake for Everton, and is even facing competition from Danish arrival Robin Olsen to be Carlo Ancelotti’s starting keeper.
Nick Pope may have recorded the 2nd most clean sheets in the league last season, but Sean Dyche’s Burnley are far from the rock solid defensive side that frustrated all visitors to Turf Moor last campaign.
Whilst Dean Henderson, perhaps the breakout star of the Premier League just a few months ago, has been left to languish on the bench at Manchester United, making the rare appearance in external competitions like the Carabao Cup.
In comparison to these 3 goalkeepers, Newcastle’s man between the sticks might as well be hailed as on par with Manuel Neuer.
Karl Darlow found himself in the difficult situation of filling in for fan favourite Martin Dubravka whilst the Slovakian has been recovering from injury, and Darlow has been exceptional since.
From stopping Bruno Fernandes’ penalty at St James’ Park to having made the most successful saves out of all his fellow Keepers, Darlow should by all accounts have been a favourite for a call up to the England national team.
Former Magpies on the Big Stage
It’s the same old story for Newcastle fans. Frustration that despite their consistently good individual form on the pitch, there’s little to no chance of seeing someone in black and white stripes being given the all white shirt of England.
For context, the last 5 Newcastle United players to make an appearance for the Three Lions goes as follows; Andros Townsend, Andy Carroll, Alan Smith, Scott Parker, and Michael Owen.
Only 2 of those 5 are still active footballers, and calling the ever injury prone Carroll as active is rather generous.
All may not be lost however. With Joe Gomez having been injured the day before England clash with Belgium, Southgate may be forced to call up a fresh CB like Jamaal Lascelles, or the frankly underrated Ben White and Lewis Dunk.
The current England squad does hark back to the dark days of Steve McClaren, Fabio Capello, and Roy Hodgson. Top 6 clubs and the manager’s personal favourites are easily accommodated for, over actual talent of the Premier League’s mid table sides.
Is it an exaggeration to say England is doomed to fail without the likes of Callum Wilson and Karl Darlow? Maybe. But Gareth Southgate’s insistence on playing favourites will undoubtedly come back to haunt the ex-Middlesbrough manager.
To refer back to a prior point, is the lack of Newcastle players abroad rather a blessing in disguise?
The Selfish View
Given the current situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, major European clubs and their supporters like PSG, Juventus, and Lazio have expressed their concerns about their talent travelling to play international football in the midst of such chaos.
The Magpies are in the rather fortunate situation that only 3-4 starters have been called up to their national team (Miguel Almiron, Fabian Schar, Jeff Hendrick, and Jamal Lewis) and the fortunate timing of the internationals will allow the worries over Wilson, Fraser, and Saint-Maximin’s fitness to die down.
In summary, whilst we as football fans naturally look at international football with disdain and a sense of “Oh this is happening again is it?”, Newcastle supporters find themselves caught between two different mindsets. A fully fit and safe starting XI, but having to watch another international break go by without any Toon player in the limelight.
Let’s just get our hopes up for Wilson at the Euros next Summer shall we?
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