Seven players who could win their first caps: Gil, Watkins, Musiala and more
For fans, the international break is a time of frustration as they go without Premier League action for a couple of weeks. For club managers and players who haven’t been selected, it will come as a welcome rest.
Yet for the players who have got the phone call, there is work to be done and excitement to be had, especially from those looking to get their first cap in this month’s games.
We’ve taken a look at seven players who could potentially make their senior international debut over the next 10 days.
Jamal Musiala – Germany
Oh, Jamal, we could have been so happy. Just imagine, three lions on your chest, the pride, the feeling of fulfilment, the… err… limp round-of-16 defeat to Norway at the 2026 World Cup.
Instead of England, Musiala has of course opted to represent Germany, the land of his birth and the country where he currently plies his trade for Bayern Munich.
Joachim Low has called the exceptionally talented 18-year-old into the squad for this month’s fixtures and Musiala could make his international bow in any of Die Mannschaft’s three upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Iceland, Romania or North Macedonia.
Alongside Musiala in the squad is equally promising Bayer Leverkusen starlet Florian Wirtz, so we could see two stars of the future lining up for Germany in the coming days.
Anatolii Trubin – Ukraine
Real Madrid youngster Andriy Lunin, currently a seldom-seen back-up to Thibaut Courtois, has long been earmarked as the successor to Ukraine’s infamously erratic veteran goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.
But he faces competition from new emerging talent Trubin, who has usurped Pyatov at Shakhtar Donetsk this season, featuring in all but one of their Champions League and Europa League outings.
The 19-year-old featured between the sticks as Shakhtar beat Madrid home and away in the Champions League group stage and finished ahead of Inter in third place, having registered a pair of 0-0 draws against Antonio Conte’s side. He also featured in a 6-0 defeat to forget against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Pyatov, 36, is four games away from his 100th cap and you imagine he’ll cling on to make that milestone, but moving forward it will be interesting to see who Andriy Shevchenko favours between Lunin and Trubin.
Bryan Gil – Spain
Luis Enrique has gone big on uncapped players in this international break, calling up Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez for the first time, as well as Sporting CP wing-back Pedro Porro and Barcelona’s 18-year-old future superstar Pedri.
Yet the one we’re really excited to see is Gil, the 20-year-old slippery winger currently on loan at Eibar from Sevilla. He’s called the ‘little Cruyff’ in Spain for the way he plays, he loves a nutmeg and he looks like a young Ringo Starr. Pretty much a perfect player, then…
Bryan Reynolds – USA
Like with Spain, there are four uncapped players in the USA squad for their upcoming friendlies with Jamaica and Northern Ireland, among them Leicester backup goalkeeper Chituru Odunze, Jordan Siebatcheu, who plays for Young Boys in Switzerland, and Christian Cappis of Norway’s Hobro IK.
The most exciting of the four, however, is without doubt Roma right wing-back Reynolds. He’s currently on loan in Italy and has only made one Serie A appearance, but the Giallorossi have an obligation to buy Reynolds from FC Dallas and big things are expected of him.
“Bryan has offensive characteristics; he is very dynamic with a special ability for crosses,” USA coach Gregg Berhalter said in January. “He is an exceptional talent, but he is still young. He needs to improve in the defensive phase.”
Ollie Watkins – England
There was plenty of chat about Leeds United’s Patrick Bamford getting a long-awaited England call, but he ended up disappointed after losing out to Aston Villa striker Watkins.
“Both Ollie and Patrick in particular, their goals record has been good,” Gareth Southgate said after his latest squad announcement, admitting it had been a close call.
“We like the personalities of both. Ollie is a player who we’ve had less interaction with in the past. It’s going to be good to get to know him.
“We like his pressing, we like his speed and runs in behind. There’s some improvements he could make with linking the game. But for his first in the Premier League and at a big club, he’s done exceptionally well.”
Watkins has scored 10 Premier League goals in his debut campaign with Villa, four fewer than Bamford, but he did score nine more than the Leeds man in the Championship last term.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) January 27, 2021
Rafael Toloi – Italy
The modern-day Thiago Motta, Atalanta stalwart Toloi was born in the Mato Grosso area of Brazil and represented the Selecao at Under-20 level, playing domestic football in his home country for five years before joining Roma on loan in 2014.
He’s been a near ever-present at Atalanta since 2015, featuring at the back in Gian Piero Gasperini’s revolution, and all that time in Serie A has seen him become a candidate for Roberto Mancini’s Italy squad.
The 30-year-old has Italian great grandparents and successfully applied for citizenship last month. He’s set to make his Azzurri debut in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
Leo Ostigard – Norway
While Erling Haaland and Martin Odegaard are the attention-grabbing names of a new generation of Norwegian talent, there are plenty of bright youngsters looking to establish themselves in Stale Solbakken’s squad.
One of those is Brighton defender Leo Ostigard. The 21-year-old is currently doing well enough on loan at Coventry to get his first call up for this month’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Gibraltar, Turkey and Montenegro.
If the clubs in Norway get their own way, though, there may be no point in the national team playing these matches. A majority of member clubs of Norway’s FA have thrown their weight behind a call to boycott the Qatar World Cup on moral and ethical grounds, despite the good chance the national team has of doing well at the tournament with the talent at its disposal.
Whatever the outcome, Ostigard will certainly be looking forward to joining up with his international team-mates this week and possibly pulling on the red shirt.