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AARON CRESSWELL OF ENGLAND ENGLAND V SPAIN WEMBLEY STADIUM LONDON ENGLAND 15 November 2016

Where are they now? Gareth Southgate’s first 10 England debutants

Almost six years have passed since Gareth Southgate became the new England manager and a lot has changed since then.

Southgate’s first England teamsheet featured the likes of Theo Walcott, Gary Cahill, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, all of whom have since hung up their boots.

No fewer than 57 different players have made their England debuts under Southgate. But what became of the first debutants he called upon? We’ve taken a look at the first 10 players that were handed their debuts by Southgate and checked in on where they’re at today.

Jesse Lingard

The Manchester United academy graduate made his England debut on the left side of attack in Southgate’s first match in charge, a fairly unmemorable 2-0 win over Malta in October 2016.

Lingard went on to make a further 31 appearances for the Three Lions, scoring six goals, and peaked with a key role in the side that reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Things have gone somewhat awry for the attacker since that brilliant half-season loan at West Ham in 2021. He never kicked on back at parent club Manchester United, endured a season to forget at Nottingham Forest, and is now a free agent.

He hasn’t appeared for Southgate’s England for nearly two years now. At least Lingard’s still got time on his side. Wait. What?

Jesse Lingard of Nottingham Forest during the Premier League match against Tottenham at the City Ground, Nottingham, UK. 28th August 2022.

READ: The Lingard paradox: 9 players we could’ve sworn were still in their early 20s

Aaron Cresswell

Southgate was officially appointed as England manager on a four-year deal back in November 2016 following a 3-0 win over Scotland earlier that month and a creditable 2-2 friendly draw with Spain.

Cresswell made his senior England bow as a substitute in that Wembley draw with Spain, but his 20-minute cameo coincided with Spain scoring twice late on level things up. He made a further two appearances in 2017, but just one start, and hasn’t been called up since.

The left-back is now into his 10th season with West Ham, for whom he’s made over 300 appearances.

Michael Keane

Once talked up as the future of England’s backline, Keane looked a promising young defender during his loans away from boyhood club Manchester United.

He started to realise that potential at Burnley, earning a big-money move to Everton and a first England cap in 2017. A further 11 senior international appearances followed.

Keane has had his moments over the years but never quite became a top-quality international-calibre centre-back and now finds himself in and out of Sean Dyche’s Everton team.

Nathan Redmond

The winger rose through the England youth ranks with no fewer than 78 appearances from Under-16 to Under-21 level.

Redmond was a regular under Southgate in the Under-21s, for whom he scored 10 goals, but his second-half cameo in a 1-0 defeat to Germany back in April 2017 remains his only senior cap.

After a year abroad with Besiktas, the 29-year-old is now back into the Premier League with Burnley. Sounds like Vincent Kompany listened to his old boss Pep Guardiola, who was apparently “only very complimentary” during this 2017 exchange. Sure looks like it.

James Ward-Prowse

Like his former Saints team-mate Redmond, Ward-Prowse rose through the ranks of the Young Lions with regular appearances for Southgate’s Under-21s before his senior bow against Germany.

A second international appearance didn’t follow for another two years, and he’s been in and out of squads ever since, often struggling for opportunities with Southgate favouring Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips and Jude Bellingham.

Over the past six years, Ward-Prowse has received 11 England caps and made just six starts, never making it into the squad for a major tournament.

The set-piece specialist can feel pretty unlucky not to have made Southgate’s latest England squad, given his exceptional start at West Ham and Phillips’ struggles for minutes at Manchester City.

Kieran Trippier

A late bloomer, Trippier’s England debut didn’t arrive until he was nearly 27 – a 3-2 friendly defeat to France in June 2017.

Despite tough competition at right-back, Trippier has been a stalwart of the Southgate era. He’s made 42 appearances for the Three Lions with a prominent role in the last two World Cups and Euro 2020 in between. After playing in a Champions League final with Tottenham and winning La Liga with Atletico Madrid, he’s now captaining freshly-minted Newcastle.

We still look back at his free-kick and believe it’s coming home.

Harry Maguire

Once the most expensive centre-back in world football, it was Maguire’s England heroics that really made his name.

The centre-back was still at Leicester City when he made his international debut in a 1-0 World Cup qualifier victory in Lithuania in October 2017. From that point on he made himself one of the first names on Southgate’s teamsheet and barely put a foot wrong as England made the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and Wembley final of Euro 2020.

Ol’ Slabhead still has Southgate’s faith, somewhat controversially, despite falling somewhere near the bottom of Manchester United’s pecking order.

It will be interesting to see if Maguire’s still getting picked for the Euros next summer if – as looks likely – he spends another season on Erik ten Hag’s bench.

Harry Winks

Winks completed 90 minutes alongside Maguire in that qualifying win over Lithuania. He made a further nine international appearances over the years, just one fewer than Ward-Prowse, but never made it to a tournament and hasn’t been capped since 2020.

The midfielder finally left boyhood club Tottenham to help spearhead Leicester City’s promotion bid from the Championship. A move that sounds about right.

Jordan Pickford

Joe Hart was still very much on the scene – but very much on the wane – when Southgate succeeded Sam Allardyce in 2016.

The former Manchester City ‘keeper continued getting selected during Southgate’s first year in charge but was gradually moved out of the picture before being omitted entirely from England’s squad for Russia 2018.

Pickford had emerged as the manager’s favourite by that point and is still England’s No.1 nearly six years on. He’d moved to Everton a few months before his England bow – a goalless friendly draw with Germany – and remains at Goodison Park.

Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope, Sam Johnstone and Dean Henderson have all emerged as challengers for Pickford’s spot between the sticks but Southgate has kept faith in his ‘keeper.

One of the defining figures of the Southgate era.

Joe Gomez

Liverpool defender Gomez also made his debut in that 0-0 against Germany, playing 65 minutes as England kept out a forward line of Leroy Sane, Julian Draxler and Timo Werner.

The centre-back missed out on the squad for the 2018 World Cup but continued getting selected until 2020.

He’s now enjoying something of a renaissance in Virgil van Dijk’s absence and arguably gets into England’s most in-form XI right now. You’d imagine Gomez would need a much longer run of form to make it back into Southgate’s thinking, however.


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