The next step for a number of Newcastle United players is international recognition on a more regular basis.
While all of Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope and Callum Wilson made it into England’s World Cup squad, none of them played particularly starring roles.
Trippier started the tournament in Qatar but dropped out towards the latter stages, while Wilson made two substitute appearances. Pope, meanwhile, did not get to kick a ball in anger.
Still, for Newcastle fans, it would have been strange to see three players included in Gareth Southgate’s set-up. For so long, the club went without representation in the England squad, so three players at once was a welcome sight.
Such is the level of form in Eddie Howe’s side, perhaps we could soon see another.
Joe Willock backed for England squad
Indeed, Joe Willock has been one of the key players in one of the Premier League’s best teams this season.
While the midfielder is not scoring as regularly as he did during a prolific loan spell in early 2021, the 23-year-old is a key part of Howe’s side. Willock has started 21 of Newcastle’s 25 League games, scoring twice and registering three assists.
Branded “Willockinho” by teammate Bruno Guimaraes, Howe has tipped the former Arsenal youngster to break into the England squad.
“Not heard this nickname Willockinho but it’s a good one,” said Howe at Thursday’s pre-match press conference (via Andy Sixsmith).
“Definitely feel England should be an aim for him. He has areas to improve but he has the potential. It’s there for him.”
England lack options in midfield
Central midfield has always been highlighted as an issue for the England side under Southgate.
With Jordan Henderson out of form and both Kalvin Phillips and Conor Gallagher struggling for regular time, the Three Lions coach is hardly blessed with available options too.
Certainly, he could do worse than plumping for Willock.