Gareth Southgate begins his career as full-time England manager later on this month with a friendly against the current world champions Germany before another World Cup qualifying game against Lithuania. As the former under-21 national team manager, Southgate will be familiar with many of the young English talent at his disposal. One such young talent, who could be in the frame for a potential call-up to the full Three Lions team, is Everton midfielder, Tom Davies.
Despite having never represented the under-21 side, Davies is the current England under-19 captain. Since making his Everton debut last April, at the tender age of just 17, the Toffees youth product has gone from strength to strength and has now cemented himself as a mainstay in the centre of the Ronald Koeman’s midfield. Davies has amassed a total of 17 appearances so far for his boyhood club, showing his talent on many an occasion.
Southgate has been present at several Everton games this season, most probably to cast an eye over Davies’s teammate Ross Barkley – another young, extremely talented English midfielder. However, while Southgate will certainly be impressed with Barkley’s displays throughout the campaign to date, it is fair to say Davies has probably caught his eye most often.
Davies has made remarkable progress under new Everton boss, Koeman, and a national team call-up could be the next step in his ascending career trajectory. As a dynamic, energetic midfielder, Davies could certainly add an air of freshness to the England squad and could be the pivot that Southgate chooses to build his future Three Lions squad around.
Along with other young midfielders Delle Ali and Ross Barkley, Davies could be part of a midfield that dominates on the international stage for years to come. An all-round midfielder, he is somewhat of a throwback, not just in terms of his looks, with his long, blonde locks and shaggy beard. He is not defined as a holding midfielder or as “number 10”, because, in truth, he can do it all. Davies can influence both attacking and defensive phases of the game and will surely play a key role in the national team in the future.
But is it too soon to throw him into the England squad? Possibly, we’ve seen many an occasion in which talented, young Englishmen have been the victims of over-hyping. His teammate Ross Barkley, for example, was billed as England’s saviour following an outstanding rookie campaign. Yet his form fell away in the following seasons, under then-Everton boss Roberto Martinez, and his progress seemingly stalled. After not playing a single minute for England in the recent European Championships, it has only been this season during which he has displayed the form that saw him receive his initial international call.
We need to be careful not to over-hype young Davies, and while all the praise he has earned has been unquestionably deserved, to catapult him into the national team at this tender stage of his career could be detrimental. However, this hasn’t stopped pundits, such as Paul Merson calling for him to be included in the upcoming squad. The ex-Arsenal and England man has said, “People might say it’s a bit early, but I would put him in the squad. I think he’s a very good player, and I’m a big fan of his. I’d like to see him in the squad.”
Should Davies be called up to the England squad, it wouldn’t be the first time he will have trained with the full national team. He was chosen to train with the senior squad back in 2015, after impressing with the under-17s. Davies would, without a doubt, benefit from the experience of simply being around the top professionals, if he were to be called up. Yet, in order to maximise the benefits of representing his country at the highest level, it is vital that he is allowed to progress without the spotlight being thrust upon him.
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