12 players we think will win their first England caps in 2018
James Maddison (Leicester)
Maddison has made a seamless step up from Championship to Premier League, establishing himself as one of the first names on Claude Puel’s teamsheet after just four top-flight outings. The attacking midfielder possesses wonderful technical ability and excels at both creating and converting chances, as demonstrated by his return of 14 goals and eight assists for Norwich last term.
There’s no room for a true No.10 in Gareth Southgate’s 3-5-2 formation, but Maddison could play in a slightly deeper midfield role if the England boss sticks with the same setup he used at the World Cup.
Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
Sessegnon was an outside bet for England’s 23-man World Cup squad, but Southgate sensibly opted against including the then-17-year-old in his travelling party. The Fulham wideman hadn’t even played a Premier League game at that point, but the Cottagers’ promotion through the play-offs means he now has a stage befitting his prodigious talent.
Now 18, Sessegnon plays with a maturity belying his tender years and would no doubt take the transition to international football in his stride. He’s versatile too, capable of playing in any number of roles on the left flank or even as an inverted winger on the right.
Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
With Bundesliga clubs more willing to blood youngsters in the first team than their Premier League counterparts, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of young English players are making the move over to Germany.
Sancho is the best example of a teenage talent who’s thrived overseas, having made 13 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund since leaving Manchester City in summer 2017. A world champion with England’s under-17s, the London-born forward can’t be too far away from a first call-up at senior level. Southgate will certainly be keeping a close eye on him.
Mason Holgate (Everton)
Everton agreed loan deals for Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina at the end of the summer transfer window, but Marco Silva has hitherto stuck with the centre-backs he inherited. Holgate began the opening-day draw with Wolves on the bench, but he’s started the Toffees’ last two Premier League matches and looks set to keep his place in the starting XI for the foreseeable future.
Young, adaptable (he can also play at right-back) and comfortable with the ball at his feet, Holgate ticks many of the boxes Southgate has based his selection policy on since taking charge in 2016.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
Potentially, one for security at this point: Wan-Bissaka is also eligible for DR Congo, so England may look to tie him up sooner rather than later. But despite being sent off against Liverpool and therefore missing the 2-1 loss to Watford through suspension, the 20-year-old was voted Palace’s player of the month for August. A call-up to England's under-21 squad has been his reward.
The tough-tackling right-back has picked up where he left off last season, when he grasped his opportunity with both hands after an injury crisis saw the Eagles academy product forced into action in February. Wan-Bissaka faces stiff competition from Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Nathaniel Clyne, though, and his task will be made even harder if Kyle Walker returns to his natural position.
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Voted player of the tournament when England won the Under-17 World Cup last year, it is a matter of when rather than if Foden receives his first full international cap. The Manchester City man is expected to receive more game time under Pep Guardiola this term, although he’s still awaiting his first start in the Premier League.
Foden is an incredibly gifted youngster who’s already been awarded the moniker of ‘Stockport Iniesta’, and could be an England mainstay for years to come. It would be a major surprise if he wasn’t included in one of Southgate’s squads before the end of 2018.