Gareth Southgate is to closely monitor Danny Ings over the next few weeks with a view to calling up the striker for the next England squad.
England have a double-header away to Croatia and Spain in October, in the Uefa Nations League, and the manager is acutely aware of his dearth of forward options.
With Jamie Vardy retired from international football and – in the current squad – neither Marcus Rashford nor Danny Welbeck regular starters for their club sides there are opportunities for other players.
Southgate is a long-time admirer of Ings who was a regular in the England Under-21s. Southgate also tipped the striker for senior honours but, so far, Ings has earned just the one cap – for the ‘deadrubber’ of a Euro 2016 qualifier away to Lithuania – in an injury-blighted career.
But having now recovered and following his deadline day move from Liverpool to Southampton, on loan with a commitment to buy for up to £20 million, including add-ons, Ings has impressed and has scored two goals so far.
Ings has impressed since moving to Southampton
Southgate and his coaching team plan to take in further Southampton games with a view to naming Ings, now 26, in the next squad should he continue to do well. Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson, also 26, is believed to another possibility while Southgate has suggested that, at 30, Watford’s in-form Troy Deeney may be too old and does not fit the style of play he wants from England.
“I think Callum is another player we worked with in the Under-21s so we know a lot about Callum. He’s certainly one we have to keep monitoring,” Southgate said of Wilson who has suffered serious problems with injury, like Ings.
Southgate added: “I think Troy is a player who really suits the way Watford play and I’m a big fan of his. But I think that we play slightly differently, and I think that, for me, the next forward players that I see that should be challenging are some of the younger ones.”
Southgate has selected a young squad for this Saturday’s Uefa Nations League game at home to Spain and the friendly next Tuesday against Switzerland with Fabian Delph who is 29 in November, the oldest member following the withdrawal of Adam Lallana.
Included is Lallana’s Liverpool team-mate Joe Gomez and the 21-year-old said he detects a special “bond” between the players following their uplifting achievements in reaching the World Cup semi-finals. But for injury the defender would also have gone to Russia and said: “I think naturally the squad that went to the World Cup, they went through something that was once in a lifetime and you can’t take away from that … you can really sense the bond within the team now and how close everyone is. It’s nice to try and be a part of that and hopefully I can be.”
Given the exploits of John Stones, Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker at the tournament then Gomez has his work cut out breaking into the team.
Gomez, who has impressed as Virgil van Dijk’s partner in the centre of Liverpool’s defence, may be in direct competition with Walker if Southgate persists with his three-man defence.
“Competition is critical, but I think he (Walker) set the standard of what’s required,” Gomez said. “Obviously that’s very high, and it’s just about learning and trying to keep maintaining that standard. It shows how well he’s done at the World Cup.”