• Elliott Peeters-Vanstone

Heaven or Hell: Dissecting Southgate’s Striker Headache

Following Thursday nights 5-0 dispatching of San Marino, England boss Gareth Southgate’s head is sure to be laden with selection woes as the European Championships grow ever closer.

No position will be under more scrutiny than his choice of who leads the line for the Three Lions at this summer’s Euros.

It is without a doubt that over the years England have been blessed with outstanding centre forwards in the shape of Wayne Rooney, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Michael Owen. However, none of the above have transformed their goals into international tournament success.

The current crop of English footballers looks very promising and in-form centre forwards are abundant, but the question is who does Southgate choose to ensure England have the quality and adaptability in attack to succeed on the international stage?

Harry Kane

Arguably the first name on the team sheet, England talisman and captain Harry Kane is almost un-droppable for this Summer’s tournament. The 27-year-old has 51 caps for his country and amounted a huge 32 goals already in his international career, placing him 6th in the England all time goalscoring records. With a World Cup golden boot already to his name, it is almost impossible to picture an England side without Kane unless injury rules him out.

Kane has bagged 17 times in the Premier League this season, but he has also flourished as a creator under Jose Mourinho this season with 13 assists in 27 appearances. Thus, making him one of the most complete centre forwards in world football right now. In my opinion, Harry Kane must lead England’s frontline at the Euro’s this summer if England have any chance of competing at the highest level.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

When managers with as much credibility as Carlo Ancelotti liken you to Cristiano Ronaldo, there is undoubtedly going to be a buzz around your name for the coming season. After being on fire in the early parts of this season, it is clear that Calvert-Lewin is one of England’s top strikers at the moment. With his athleticism and physicality, he is always going to be a handful for defenders and his 14 Premier League goals this season prove this. He is blessed with pace and a tall stature that accompanied with technical ability makes him a complete forward with an innate aerial ability.

After a brace this week against San Marino, DCL has proven he can score international goals, but it will be interesting to see how he fares against much better opposition. I would argue that the 24-year-old offers a different playstyle to many of the other strikers on this list and would definitely suit tournament football. Although it’s unfair to liken him to players like Andy Carroll, he certainly will offer the attacking variety that England need to succeed and therefore he would be on the plane if I was picking the squad.

Danny Ings

After being plighted with Injuries throughout his career, Danny Ings is one of the names that has been on many England fans lips this season. He started the season beginning where he left off, scoring 6 goals in his first 8 games this season. However, injuries have once again got in his way this year and limited his goal tally. It is clear that Ings has quality and experience and he is finally showing the form that warranted him a transfer to Liverpool in 2015. Rumours are also circulating that Pep Guardiola is interested in the Saint’s man which clearly highlights the star quality that he possesses.

Although he is currently injured, I would argue that Danny Ings is the type of player who could definitely cause damage coming off the bench in an international tournament and Southgate would be naïve to completely overlook him if he is fit. His goalscoring ability and experience would be invaluable amongst a young England squad and I believe he can definitely recapture the form that we have been accustomed to seeing from the Southampton forward.

Ollie Watkins

As one of the wildcard choices in Gareth Southgate’s squad this week, Ollie Watkins certainly has lived up to expectations by scoring on his International debut against San Marino. The Villa forward has proven this year how important the role of a dynamic forward is in the modern game. His work rate and technical ability has deservedly earned him 10 goals in the Premier League this season. However, the ex-Brentford man has hit the woodwork 7 times this year, which if converted would make him joint top scorer with Harry Kane and Mo Salah. Admittedly this is hypothetical, but it does prove that the 25-year-old has the potential to reach the levels of some of the League’s best strikers with experience.

In my opinion, Watkins’ dynamism and attitude makes him a great addition to any football side and his story of rags to riches is one that England fans will certainly get behind. To have gone from being on-loan at non-league Weston Super-Mare 7 years ago to playing at Wembley in a world cup qualifier, the former Exeter City player has shown immense talent and commitment. However, his journey is inspirational, but nothing without quality to back it up and thankfully he has this in abundance. I personally feel that the euros this year may be too soon for him, but there is definitely a reason to remember the name!

Patrick Bamford

Unfortunate to miss out in the recent World Cup Qualifier squad, Patrick Bamford is a striker who has shown his ability consistently this season after scoring 14 goals in 29 games. The Leeds forward has thrived in Bielsa’s attack-loving system and has definitely thrown his hat into the ring for a potential Euro’s call up. At 27-years-old Bamford is coming into the prime of his career and certainly could offer something to this England side. He does well with a creative team behind him and England should be no different. Bamford’s movement and positioning make him the perfect staple point for Leeds’ goal hungry side, and this is something that Southgate could certainly employ into his side off the bench if a goal is necessary.

I personally feel that Bamford isn’t unique enough of a forward to displace players like Harry Kane, but he definitely has the mentality to prove people wrong. He can certainly pop up in the right area and score a goal which ultimately is what he Is there to do.

What Would I Do?

Southgate certainly has a host of difficult decisions to make this summer. However, if I was the gaffer, I personally would take Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ollie Watkins to support Harry Kane. I personally feel that Calvert-Lewin offers the variety in attack that England are lacking, and Watkins potentially could thrive off of the challenge and offer something different to this England side.

We would love to hear your opinions, so please feel free to get in touch.

Written by Elliott Peeters-Vanstone