15 players who could win their first caps this week: Kluivert, Cutrone, Alonso…
Gareth Southgate has named a 27-man England squad featuring four uncapped players, including two from the Premier League’s surprise packages Burnley.
Holland, meanwhile, the first opponents of England’s double header, have named seven new faces in Ronald Koeman’s first squad.
Nick Pope (Burnley)
An injury to Tom Heaton presented Pope with an unexpected first-team opportunity, which he has grabbed with both hands with Burnley set to finish in the top half of the Premier League.
Only David De Gea has a better save percentage than Pope – 0.5% more than the 80.2% of shots on target that the Burnley stopper has kept out. That’s over 8% more than anyone else and almost 30% more than Joe Hart.
He has managed 10 clean sheets so far this season, which is three more than any other English goalkeeper, earning him many calls to start for the country at the World Cup – meaning he may be given his first chance in the upcoming friendlies.
🗣️ "For me, he's been the best goalie this season out of the ones that are in the squad."
👍 Nick Pope gets Merse's vote for England's No.1 this summer.
🤔 Who would you start in the first game?
— Sky Bet (@SkyBet) March 20, 2018
Alfie Mawson (Swansea)
“He is a player completely ready to play at the highest level,” Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal said when his central defender received his first call-up for the friendlies against Italy and Holland.
Mawson has had an impressive 18 months since tracing John Stones’ steps in moving to the Premier League from Barnsley.
Prior to Carvalhal’s appointment, Swansea were conceding an average of 1.6 goals per game. Take out a hefty defeat to Brighton and it is now an average of under one, with Mawson playing a key role.
James Tarkowski (Burnley)
Only three Premier League clubs have a better defensive record than Burnley this season, as Tarkowski and co. have conceded just 26 goals.
Despite only being 25, the centre-back’s career has already had plenty of ups and downs – he joined Blackburn as a youngster but was then released, while he broke his leg aged 15 and then needed surgery because his feet were too wide. Tarkowski is also eligible for Poland through his grandparents.
If Pope and Tarkowski make debuts in coming games then Burnley will have supplied more England players in past year than Arsenal/Chelsea combined (also Heaton, Keane, Cork)
Arsenal: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck (plus Wilshere if plays here),
Chelsea: Cahill @BurnleyOfficial
— Bill Edgar (@BillEdgarTimes) March 15, 2018
Lewis Cook (Bournemouth)
Having been drafted into the squad last time around, Cook retains his place among Gareth Southgate’s men as the England boss looks to address a shortfall in the centre of midfield
The Under-20 World Cup winning captain made just nine Premier League appearances last season but has become a key member of Eddie Howe’s side this term, as they join Burnley in the hunt for a top 10 position come May.
Patrick Cutrone (AC Milan)
Under-21 manager Luigi Di Biagio is currently in temporary charge of the Italian national team, and has called up Cutrone, who has netted four in five for the young international side.
He has scored 15 goals this season, including six in the Europa League, and hit the headlines in January when he scored a goal off his arm, which VAR of course failed to spot.
VAR was at it again recently with Cutrone, when his goal took some deliberation before being awarded, and no one was going to stop him celebrating.
¡ESTAS LOCO PATRICK!😋😂🔴⚫️
— Planeta Milan🌎🔴⚫ (@PlanetaMilan) March 19, 2018
Justin Kluivert (Ajax)
In a huge 33-man squad, new Holland boss Ronald Koeman has named seven uncapped players for Holland’s upcoming matches against England and Portugal.
Patrick’s son has pulled up plenty of trees during his breakthrough season, scoring some memorable goals in the process.
The 18-year-old has 44 senior appearances under his belt since making his debut last term.
Justin Kluivert vs. Heerenveen.
The best U18 player in the world. pic.twitter.com/C3rwmFnUpj
— ty (@finalthrd) March 13, 2018
Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid)
Defender Lucas has been the subject of a tug-of-war between France and Spain but has now opted for Didier Deschamps’ side.
The 22-year-old, whose brother Theo has made 19 appearances at Real Madrid this term, can operate at either centre-back or left-back.
Wissam Ben Yedder (Sevilla)
After coming off the bench to score twice at Old Trafford and fire Sevilla into the Champions League quarter-finals, Ben Yedder has been handed his first international call-up by Deschamps.
The striker has been in stunning form in Europe this term, netting 10 times in nine appearances, while managing just six goals in 19 La Liga appearances.
Marcos Alonso (Chelsea)
The wing-back has been excellent since joining Chelsea last summer, creating and scoring goals while also being sound defensively in Antonio Conte’s title-winning side.
He has scored six Premier League goals this season and earned an international call, though Barcelona man Jordi Alba will be tough to knock out of the side.
Republic of Ireland
Scott Hogan (Aston Villa)
Hogan is one of nine uncapped players who were named in Martin O’Neill’s squad to face Turkey – though Reading midfielder Liam Kelly chose not to take up the offer as he has hopes of playing for England in the future.
The Villa striker is enjoying a remarkable rise through the divisions. The 25-year-old was playing non-league football for Hyde just five years ago having been dumped by Rochdale as a teenager – before commanding a £15million fee when he moved from Brentford to Aston Villa last January.
Oli McBurnie (Barnsley, on loan from Swansea)
McBurnie is in red-hot form at the moment, netting six goals in nine Championship games for Barnsley. The striker was been named the PL2 player of the season last term, and has scored 23 goals in 21 appearances in the competition since the start of last season.
One of two former Bradford City players making their first appearance in the Scotland squad, McBurnie has already spoke of his ambition to one day play for Rangers, the club the Leeds-born forward supported as a child.
— Off The Post News (@offthepostnews) February 28, 2018
Liam Millar (Liverpool)
Millar, 18, has already progressed from Steven Gerrard’s Under-18 outfit to make up part of the Under-23 squad at Liverpool this season, and has earned a shock senior call-up for Canada’s friendly with New Zealand on Saturday.
The former Fulham youngster, who was spotted by Liverpool in 2016, has already been invited to train with the first team at Melwood on numerous occasions, and is one to watch out for in Jurgen Klopp’s young side.
Erik Palmer-Brown (Manchester City)
Captain of the US side at last summer’s Under-20 World Cup, Palmer-Brown attracted the interests of Pep Guardiola, joining City at the end of the MLS season before being loaned straight out to Belgian second-tier club Kortrijk.
The central defender has found opportunities hard to come by at his temporary club, but caretaker manager Dave Sarachan has named him in a young squad mainly due to his impressive pedigree at a tender age.
Timothy Weah (PSG)
George’s son had a plethora of international options, reportedly turning down France, while his father received 60 caps for Liberia (and is currently the country’s president, but that’s another tale altogether), but chose the USA after being born and raised in the country.
He has made two first-team appearances for PSG this season, and featured for the USA in the Under-17 World Cup last summer, becoming the first American to score a hat-trick in the knockout stages of a World Cup.