England stars hoping to make an impact against Poland to make Euros

Last chance saloon for England’s Euro 2020 wannabes: Reece James can bump Alexander-Arnold out of the squad, Ollie Watkins can seal his spot and can Jude Bellingham make a late case for inclusion in final audition against Poland at Wembley tonight

  • England take on Poland in their third World Cup 2022 qualifier on Wednesday
  • It’s the last chance to impress before Gareth Southgate names Euro 2020 squad
  • Easy wins over San Marino and Albania may not have offered too much insight
  • But Poland test will provide better clues as Southgate mulls over his final 23 men 

After two perfunctory victories over San Marino and Albania, England’s World Cup qualification campaign really kicks up a notch when they meet Poland on Wednesday night.

Although the Wembley visitors will be without their injured star man Robert Lewandowski in attack, they should still cause England plenty of issues.

Opportunities are scarce now for Gareth Southgate to assess how his youthful and exciting side cope against strong opposition before this summer’s European Championship.

Time is quickly running out for Gareth Southgate to finalise his England squad for Euro 2020

England have started their World Cup qualifying campaign strongly with back-to-back wins

This is also the last fixture the Three Lions play before Southgate has to select his 23-man squad for Euro 2020.

The likes of Harry Kane, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling and Harry Maguire are already certainties, but there are many who still need to produce a convincing performance against Poland to make sure of their spot.

We take a look at 10 players desperate to impress and book their ticket to the Euros on Wednesday night.


Lingard’s late dart into England contention for the summer has been perfectly timed. He has combined resurgent club form on loan at West Ham with a bright performance in last Thursday’s 5-0 thrashing of San Marino.

The only thing missing was a goal to mark his first England appearance since the summer of 2019 but it wasn’t for the want of trying with San Marino keeper Elia Benedettini denying him again and again.

Lingard featured only as a late substitute in Sunday’s 2-0 win in Albania, which suggests that Southgate may hand him another opportunity to impress against tougher opposition in Poland.

There’s no doubt Lingard is playing like a man enjoying his football again and despite England’s abundance of riches in attacking areas, he can book himself a place in the squad with another positive performance here.

Jesse Lingard had plenty of shooting opportunities against San Marino but couldn’t score

Kyle Walker’s versatility on the right side of the defence makes him a likely pick for the Euros


Walker didn’t feature against San Marino as Southgate reverted to a back four but returned against Albania where he was able to show his attacking qualities from right-back.

The Manchester City man, 30, feared his England career was over when he was sent off against Iceland last September but consistent club form has kept the door very much open.

With Southgate hoping to make his team more flexible and equally comfortable playing either a 3-4-2-1 or a 4-3-3 for the Euros, Walker is a good asset to have.

He can play either as a conventional right-back or as the right-sided centre back in the three. That pretty much guarantees his selection but he can cement this with a good display against Poland.


James really looked the part against San Marino, with his attacking instincts and crossing especially eye-catching.

The Chelsea man has made the step up from under-21 to senior international football look effortless with that post-final whistle red card against Denmark the only black mark so far.

But Southgate wouldn’t have learned too much from the San Marino game so James really must continue with his high standards if started against Poland.

Competition for places in his position is perhaps the most intense in the whole squad, with Trent Alexander-Arnold the shock omission from this latest squad.

With Walker, Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier to compete against, James really needs to show his best with only three spots likely to be available in the summer 23.

Reece James has the chance to nail down his spot amid an abundance of right-backs 


England aren’t quite as blessed at left-back but the return to form of Luke Shaw at Manchester United this season now offers stiff competition for Chelsea man Chilwell.

He responded as well as he possibly could in the win over San Marino, setting up the opening goal for James Ward-Prowse and offering a threat.

But Shaw then played well against Albania, swinging in the cross from which Harry Kane headed England’s opener late in the first-half.

It’s a straight shoot-out between the pair and whoever gets the nod against Poland, vastly superior opposition to the last week’s, could well provide a big clue to Southgate’s thinking for the summer.

Ben Chilwell (right) is competing with Luke Shaw to be England’s left-back in the summer


The Southampton midfielder looked absolutely delighted to score his first international goal in the win over San Marino as he won his fifth cap.

No 6 came in the final 20 minutes against Albania when he replaced Kalvin Phillips with Southgate obviously keen to get a good assessment of his game management abilities.

It’s going to be a squeeze with Southgate’s midfield picks, especially with Jordan Henderson yet to fully return, but Ward-Prowse, who also offers set-piece prowess, has staked his claim well enough.

He may not feature against Poland, with a middle pairing of Mount and Declan Rice most likely, so a strong finish to the season in a Saints side going backwards is essential.

James Ward-Prowse shows his delight after scoring his first England goal last Thursday


Dreams came true for Watkins when he came off the bench to score his first England goal to round off last week’s win over San Marino, marking a remarkable rise from League Two to the very highest level.

It was the latest milestone for the 25-year-old, who has made the step up to the Premier League look easy after leaving Brentford for Aston Villa in the summer.

There will probably be room for two back-up centre forwards to support Harry Kane in this summer’s England squad. Barring an injury to the skipper, the other two know their impact will most likely come off the bench.

There isn’t an abundance of possible options and with that goal last week, Watkins has probably done enough to get the nod along with Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Ollie Watkins is mobbed after scoring his first international goal in the win over San Marino


The 17-year-old rising star collected his second England cap as a half-time substitute against San Marino and performed competently enough against modest opposition.

Bellingham didn’t feature against Albania and is likely to be named on the bench once more against Poland, so would have to make any impact later in the match.

His spot in the 23 for the summer if far from guaranteed. He lacks the experience of every other midfield candidate and places are already tight.

But that isn’t to detract in any way from his Borussia Dortmund form this season, which has been highly encouraging, and sometimes international managers like to select a wildcard. Remember Theo Walcott in 2006?

If he doesn’t make the final cut, Bellingham knows he has plenty of time on his side and will almost certainly grace many England squads in the years to come.

17-year-old Jude Bellingham (left) will be hoping to force his way into the Euro 2020 squad


Calvert-Lewin finds himself in brilliant scoring form and certainly cashed in against San Marino, his two goals increasing his international tally to four.

When you talk about players who snap into irresistible form in the lead-up to a major tournament, Calvert-Lewin could be the definition after his 19 Everton goals and counting this season.

You’d place him just about Watkins in the attacking pecking order to be the second choice to Kane in the summer – and rightly so.

If Calvert-Lewin was to come off the bench and score the winner against Poland on Wednesday night, you might as well rubber-stamp his spot for the summer now.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin is in outstanding form and scored twice in the win over San Marino


Southgate has really wanted to take a close look at Phillips during this latest set of internationals, starting him against both San Marino and Albania.

The Leeds midfielder, who came into the England reckoning during the Nations League games last autumn, was solid if unspectacular which is exactly what is expected of him.

He probably won’t start against Poland which is a shame as it would have been interesting to see how he coped against superior opposition having also not started against Belgium last year.

It suggests that Southgate knows his midfield pairing for the summer but there’s still every chance Phillips will take a place in the squad.

Kalvin Phillips will face stiff competition to win a place in England’s midfield for the summer


There is good competition for the centre-back positions though it is to be expected that Harry Maguire and John Stones will be the pair to dislodge.

If Southgate opts for the three-man options, we’re likely to see Maguire, Stones and Walker in that position.

But others have really pushed their case in recent months, including Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings, who really haven’t done much wrong when called upon.

Coady was partnered with Stones against San Marino and didn’t exactly endure a taxing evening and he didn’t feature against Albania. Mings, meanwhile, replaced Stones for the second half last Thursday.

Places will be tight for the summer and dependent on how many wing-backs options Southgate wants. But Coady and Mings have perhaps moved ahead of Eric Dier and any others to offer support to Maguire and Stones.

Conor Coady (right) hasn’t put a foot wrong in England colours and could make the squad

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