I chatted to Jarrad Branthwaite after frustrating night and he proved Gareth Southgate right

Jarrad Branthwaite could head to this summer’s Euros as Gareth Southgate showed he clearly has more sense than those behind the Premier League’s Young Player of the Year Award.

The England boss has named the centre back in his provisional squad for the tournament, a massive boost for the 21-year-old after a stunning season for the Blues.

It marks the latest milestone for a youngster who has enjoyed an extraordinary rise to become one of the hottest defensive prospects in European football.

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The inclusion of Branthwaite should be a no-brainer. After being brought into the Everton starting line-up following the hammering at Aston Villa he developed into a colossus at the back. Supported by James Tarkowski and Vitalii Mykolenko either side of him, he has rarely looked outside of his comfort zone in a campaign that has seen him impress while handling some of the Premier League’s most dangerous attackers.

Branthwaite was one of the best players on the pitch at Anfield as an Everton side reduced to 10 men were only undone by a late penalty and then produced his best performance of the season in front of Southgate in the home win over Chelsea. The England manager had a long list of players to cast his eye over in that fixture and Branthwaite, who was not a starting player as the England Under-21s won their Euros last summer, may not have been on it when that match kicked-off. By the final whistle the defender plucked from Carlisle United had no doubt caught Southgate’s attention with a superb display capped off by his own celebrations when a last-ditch challenge thwarted a Chelsea attack in stoppage time as Goodison rocked towards another victory in response to the 10 point deduction handed out weeks earlier.

The maturity Branthwaite has displayed has been one of his most impressive attributes. Rarely has he looked phased and he has overcome setbacks, such as the difficult second half given to him by Erling Haaland at the Etihad, by maintaining his high standards. During his rise in influence he has become a talisman willing to articulate the views of the dressing room, identifying the frustration felt by a run of contentious decisions against Everton that culminated in the eventually rescinded red card handed to Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the FA Cup match at Crystal Palace. I remember standing outside the changing rooms in the rain on that cold Thursday night as he struck the balance of identifying the mood of his teammates without stepping over the line and attracting controversy.

Branthwaite channelled his increased responsibility on the pitch too, scoring three huge goals this season. The stoppage time equaliser against Tottenham Hotspur and the brutal finish to put Everton ahead at Brighton and Hove Albion were big moments that helped secure important points during his side’s dismal winless run. And it does not come bigger than opening the scoring in a famous Merseyside derby win under the lights of the Grand Old Lady.

Eighteen months ago, Branthwaite was on loan at Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven and struggling for gametime, prompting director of football Kevin Thelwell to step in to get reassurances over the opportunities he would have. His last run out in L4 had ended in a first half red card after being out-thought and out-fought by Ivan Toney.

He has since emerged as one of the brightest talents in the English game. It was outrageous the youngster who was central to one of the best defences in the league in his breakthrough campaign was not in the running for Young Player of the Year. Not giving him a chance to compete for the England squad this summer would have been another terrible mistake. There is a chance this tournament is one too soon for him to play a major role in the senior side. But have no doubt that Branthwaite, tracked by European giants, will become one of the most important centre backs of the next generation.