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5 players Gareth Southgate should call up for England’s upcoming fixtures

England made a winning start to their qualifying campaign for the 2024 European Championships, defeating Italy and Ukraine.

Now comes two slightly more favourable fixtures against Malta and North Macedonia.

While the latter have proven themselves to be capable of springing an upset, the former really ought to be a comfortable win for the Three Lions.

As a result, this gives manager Gareth Southgate the opportunity to rotate and experiment with his squad.

The former Middlesbrough boss often likes to keep a consistent squad, but he has given some new players the chance to earn their way into the reckoning.

Marc Guehi, Tyrick Mitchell, Kyle Walker-Peters, James Justin, Jarrod Bowen and Ivan Toney have all made their England debuts since the start of 2022.

The next international break should hopefully provide an opportunity for some new faces to prove themselves, as well as some former regulars the chance to work their way back into the set-up.

Here are five players who deserve a call-up for England’s games in June.

Folarin Balogun

Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun has exploded onto the scene this season. During his loan spell with Reims, he has established himself as one of the finest young strikers around, netting 18 league goals.

This puts him fourth in the Ligue 1 Golden Boot race, while Harry Kane is the only English player with more goals.

But there is more to it than form. Balogun was born in the United States to Nigerian parents and thus qualifies for both national teams. After being snubbed in March, he hinted that he was ready to declare for the Stars and Stripes.

Having lost Jamal Musiala to Germany, the Football Association will be desperate not to let another talented youngster escape their grasp. Now could be the right time to give Balogun his debut.

Ollie Watkins

If Balogun is ignored again, it may be in favour of Ollie Watkins. The forward has been electric lately, scoring 11 and assisting two in his last 12 appearances.

The 27-year-old has already played seven times for England under Southgate, scoring the opener in his most recent cap in March 2022 against Ivory Coast.

This will have earned him some trust from the manager, as well as familiarity with the rest of the squad.

Kane is England’s first-choice striker, but the deputy spot is still up for grabs. Callum Wilson played that role during the World Cup, while Ivan Toney was preferred in March’s squad.

With Watkins in red-hot form, he could get another chance to stake his claim.

Tyrone Mings

Watkins may be the one getting most of the headlines amid Aston Villa’s recent revival but don’t underestimate the importance of Tyrone Mings.

The much-maligned centre-back has been excellent since the appointment of Unai Emery in November.

In his last eight appearances, Mings has conceded just two goals. This has helped his side pick up 22 points from a possible 24, propelling them up to sixth place.

Mings is another who has previously been in the England set-up. He featured in all three of their group stage games at Euro 2020, starting two. During this time, he didn’t concede a single goal.

Southgate’s centre-back options aren’t the strongest, with the selection of Harry Maguire and Eric Dier in the last squad drawing some criticism.

If one of those two were to drop out, Mings could be the next in line to take their place.

James Ward-Prowse

Probably the most scrutinised part of the March squad was the central midfield. The inclusion of Kalvin Phillips, Jordan Henderson and Conor Gallagher in particular was the subject of debate.

However, while all those players can be questioned, there aren’t many alternatives ready to take their place. One man who could is James Ward-Prowse.

The Southampton midfielder is renowned for his world-class set pieces, but he offers plenty more. He’s a good passer, has excellent delivery, and can provide energy in the middle of the park.

Ward-Prowse has been capped 11 times by Southgate, most recently against Italy in June. Many people felt he was unlucky to miss the last two major international tournaments.

Eberechi Eze

One of the main things missing from the England squad is a top-class attacking midfielder. Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and James Maddison have shifted out wide, while Mason Mount hasn’t progressed as hoped.

Eberechi Eze offers a completely different option to anyone else. He’s a brilliant dribbler, very strong on the ball, composed and can score goals. He is currently Crystal Palace’s top scorer, notching seven.

Southgate has admired the former Queens Park Rangers playmaker for some time, and it was reported that he would have been included in his provisional squad for Euro 2020 had he not suffered a long-term injury.

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