Harry Kane is England’s star. We all know that. He’ll start every game at this summer’s European Championships when he’s fit, and rightly so.
Behind him, however, it’s a mystery.
There are a handful of players vying for the honour of deputising for Kane at the Euros, and the fact that (almost) any of them could make the cut is one of the most intriguing parts of Gareth Southgate’s squad selection.
Let’s take a look at his options.
Would Abraham be bottom of this list if he had actually played under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea? Probably not, but unfortunately for him, his chances of getting on the plane are zero.
While Abraham is a reliable top-flight striker, you don’t get to the Euros with just three league starts this year under your belt.
Injury struggles don’t work in Wilson’s favour. His hamstring has been causing him problems all year and he’s missed the end of the season because of it.
When fit, he hasn’t had it easy at Newcastle. He scored in just two matches in the second half of the season, and that’s just not enough to get yourself to the top of the list.
As a third-choice striker, you could do worse, but because the level of competition is so high, Wilson has to miss out.
Watkins was scoring for Aston Villa when they were good and he’s still delivering when Villa aren’t so good.
A clever mover around the penalty area, Watkins offers something different to some of the other candidates, but if his job is to score goals, there are a few players who inspire a little more confidence.
Southgate has clearly taken a liking to Watkins and that will likely work in his favour, but there are other strikers who should be ahead of him in the pecking order.
Ings is 28 years old and we’re still yet to figure out what kind of level he’s actually at.
Another of those who knows how to impress in flashes, Ings has mixed some electric periods at Southampton with some thoroughly underwhelming ones.
He’s ended the season in solid form, and that definitely works in his favour here, but there’s some fierce competition and Ings might just miss out.
Holding the backup spot all season, Calvert-Lewin’s form has plummeted in 2021 and his place in the squad shouldn’t be as secure as it has been.
In the opening few months of the season, we saw everything Calvert-Lewin has to offer – a powerful predator with dominant aerial ability – but he’s yet to really recover from the slump in form he hit in December.
On his day, Calvert-Lewin is an excellent striker, and his skill set merits a spot in the squad, but his role as the undisputed number two is in doubt.
Eternally underrated, Bamford has consistently faced questions over whether he’s actually good in any system other than Marcelo Bielsa’s. Frustratingly, we don’t actually know the answer because he has never had a chance to prove it.
Nevertheless, Bamford has been one of the most dangerous strikers in the Premier League this season, shining with an energetic press and movement which few centre-backs have figured out.
He should have been called up during the last international break, and this summer is the chance to right that wrong.