8 players that could win their first cap: Ramsdale, Gabriel, Guendouzi…
The international break is upon us, and while many yawn and dread the prospect, the next 10 days could provide some footballers with the proudest moments of their careers to date.
Some outstanding young players, as well as some older heads getting long-awaited rewards after years of plugging away, are in line to represent their nations for the first time.
Here are eight players that could make their international debuts this November.
Emile Smith Rowe
The Arsenal academy graduate has taken his game up another level in 2021-22 and was controversially omitted from the England squad before receiving his first call-up after Marcus Rashford and James Ward-Prowse withdrew due to injury and illness.
What’s been the secret to his new-found success? Ditching chocolate and takeaways, he told The Telegraph.
It’s surprising that Ramsdale has not actually made it onto the pitch yet for the Three Lions, given the sight of him in England colours has been a common occurrence in 2021 – not least with his big beaming smile from the bench during the run to the Euro 2020 final.
Should England wrap up qualification against Albania on Friday, San Marino next Monday looks an obvious occasion for his long-awaited debut.
If the 23-year-old can keep up his stunning form for Arsenal, Jordan Pickford’s days as England No.1 may well be numbered.
Like Ramsdale, Guendouzi – who remains on Arsenal’s books, shining on loan at Marseille – also featured in this list when we did it for the last international break. Yet he still awaits his Les Bleus debut.
It’s not the first time that the midfielder has been called up by Didier Deschamps and not featured, but you get the feeling he’s getting closer, while Paul Pogba’s withdrawal due to injury could open up a space for their final qualifiers against Finland and Kazakhstan.
The fourth Arsenal player on this list is set to make his long-awaited first appearance for Brazil’s first team, having represented their Under-20s and Under-23s. The centre-back received a late call from Tite after an injury to Benfica’s Lucas Verissimo.
It’s 220 days since Arsenal last lost with Gabriel in their XI, and the 23-year-old certainly looks capable of becoming a mainstay for years to come. “Suspect he might be in for the long haul,” tweeted Brazil-based Selecao expert Tim Vickery.
Raul de Tomas
‘RDT’ has been described as an own-brand Cristiano Ronaldo, which is still pretty good going to be honest.
A product of Real Madrid’s La Fabrica academy, the striker had to move away for regular playing opportunities and began to catch the eye with a prolific record for Rayo Vallecano in 2018-19. A brief stint at Benfica followed before his grand La Liga return in January 2020.
Signed mid-season by Espanyol, he wasn’t able to stop the Barcelona-based club from getting relegated, but he scored 23 goals in the Segunda Division to fire them back to the top-flight, and he’s begun the 2021-22 campaign with seven goals in 12 games.
Only Karim Benzema has scored more in La Liga this season. De Tomas is Spain’s most in-form forward and it’ll be exciting to see what he can do under Luis Enrique.
Espanyol take the lead against Real Madrid thanks to RDT! 🔵⚪
Raúl de Tomás scores against the club where he started his career 😱 pic.twitter.com/rIUiVMlGmX
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) October 3, 2021
The Italian midfielder has never made an appearance for his boyhood club AC Milan, but he’s now into his fourth loan away, and catching the eye at Torino.
Pobega’s form this season has been rewarded by Roberto Mancini giving him a shout for the reigning European Champions for their upcoming qualifiers against Switzerland and Northern Ireland.
“Marcus Rashford played that week in the Europa League. He got a couple of goals, and then a couple more against Arsenal,” Keane reminisced in an interview with us on the twist of fate that denied him his big break at boyhood club Manchester United.
“Obviously nothing against him, and he was always going to break through, but at the time you’re thinking, ‘Oh, if I wasn’t injured, that could have been me’. At that point, I knew I had to start thinking about my career beyond United.”
The forward, who is the twin brother of erstwhile England international Michael Keane, left Old Trafford after a series of loans in 2016 and has quietly impressed in the Football League – particularly at League One promotion-chasers Wigan Athletic.
He might not be joining Rashford for England, but he could make his debut for the Republic of Ireland, eligible thanks to his Sligo-born father.
“To sort of reconnect with that and have the opportunity to represent Ireland is a massive honour and something I’m really proud of doing,” Keane told the Belfast Telegraph.
The latest young American to start catching the eye in the Bundesliga, 18-year-old full-back Scally has played almost every minute of Borussia Monchengladbach’s league campaign so far.
The former New York City FC starlet has been called up for the United States for their upcoming qualifiers against Mexico and Jamaica and looks set to become a regular.