A lot has changed since England’s heartbreak in the final of Euro 2020 at Wembley last year.
Some of the players who have been consistent figures in Gareth Southgate’s side over the last few years have endured miserable seasons domestically with their clubs.
On the other hand, a new crop of talent are staking their claim to break into the England set-up at the best possible time.
Gareth Southgate could make some big calls and introduce some young players in his first squad selection of 2022
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar kicks off in just over eight months time meaning the squad that was selected last year could look very different to the one that get on the plane this winter.
Gareth Southgate is set to announce his first squad of 2022 on Thursday, and he has been monitoring the progress of several youngsters who could be set to receive their call-ups.
While some off-form players are expected to keep their place like Harry Maguire, others including Marcus Rashford are at real danger of losing their places.
Sportsmail takes a look at England’s next generation who could make Southgate’s squad for the friendlies against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast.
Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa, 20)
You know there’s a special talent when Steven Gerrard, one of England’s greatest ever midfielders, is championing their case.
Sportsmail have previously reported that Jacob Ramsey is on the radar of manager Gareth Southgate, which will come as no surprise to anybody’s that watched him regularly in recent months.
Ramsey only became a first-team regular at Aston Villa this season but he has already scored six Premier League goals and has developed a brilliant understanding with players around him, notably January loan signing Philippe Coutinho.
He may be raw to the bright lights of Villa Park but there’s now every belief that the 20-year-old can follow the likes of former players James Milner, Gareth Barry and Jack Grealish as England internationals.
‘I know the level of the England players,’ Gerrard claimed after their 3-3 draw with Leeds last month. ‘I’ve been around it, and have enough experience to know it’s only a matter of time but let’s all be sensible and keep calm about it.
Aston Villa have unleashed another top English star following Jack Grealish’s exit in the form of Jacob Ramsey
‘I want him to make his own headlines with his football. He is a top talent, I’m loving every moment of working with him. He is getting stronger with each game because we’re giving him the platform to express himself. He is in a wonderful place.’
He is a player who shows fantastic energy with his bursting runs from midfield and has a great knack for getting into the box which has contributed to his impressive goal return.
With the way he’s going, he’ll soon enough have the knack of making England squads on a regular basis – potentially starting on Thursday.
Interestingly, Southgate sent a fitness coach to Villa’s training ground to assess their English players, also including Tyrone Mings, Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings – which could be a potential sign of Southgate’s plans.
Tyrick Mitchell (Crystal Palace, 22)
Patrick Vieira has already helped turn Conor Gallagher into an England international this season and Tyrick Mitchell is among a number of Crystal Palace players who are knocking on the door.
What might help the 22-year-old’s case is that Southgate is facing somewhat of a selection headache at the left-back position.
Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell is set to miss the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury, while fellow full-back Kieran Trippier is out for with a metatarsal problem – while Luke Shaw has had a tough season form-wise and his fitness is debatable due to injuries, Covid and a lack of game time.
Mitchell, meanwhile, has enjoyed his first season as first-choice left-back, following the departure of Patrick van Aanholt.
Tyrick Mitchell did a brilliant job at left-back to get the better of Manchester City’s offence
A good listener, learner and his own biggest critic, Mitchell is enjoying the challenges set by Vieira, adapting and delivering.
He is defensively sound, showing excellent positioning, constantly coming up with timely blocks and interceptions and his 90 successful tackles this season is the second best in the top flight.
Mitchell passed his final challenge ahead of Thursday’s squad announcement, getting the better of Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez in the goalless draw on Monday.
He has put himself on Southgate’s radar and will be a strong contender to get his first England call-up.
If Southgate looks elsewhere, England will need to be careful going forward as Mitchell is also eligible to play for Jamaica.
Fikayo Tomori (Milan, 24)
The Milan defender already has two caps to his name with the most recent of which as a substitute in a 5-0 win over Andorra in October.
It was his first England cap in nearly two years and a big part of that was down to his decision to leave home comforts at Chelsea to play in Serie A.
With names like Baresi, Maldini, Costacurta and Nesta, playing in the AC Milan defence is like playing in the shadow of giants.
But Tomori has quickly become a favourite at the San Siro and has been able to revive his career after falling out of favour at Stamford Bridge.
Fikayo Tomori has helped AC Milan move to the top of the Serie A table with his fine form
He has thrived with regular football which led to his return to the set-up in October and with the way things are going he could become a regular presence in the squad.
One factor that might help his call is the lack of form of those in the England set-up competing for the same position.
Harry Maguire is having perhaps the worst season of his career, John Stones is struggling for game time, while Tomori’s form is better that Mings or Conor Coady.
In fact, his form is arguably the best of any English centre-back at the moment.
His performances have helped AC Milan move to the top of the Serie A table, despite the fact that he has played alongside three different centre-back partners this season.
Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace, 21)
Another centre-back who could take advantage of the current issues at the position among English players.
Marc Guehi has made a strong start to life in the Premier League, since joining Crystal Palace in the summer for £18m.
The 21-year-old has shown himself to be a composed and assured presence at the heart of the Eagles’ defence.
Southgate does like giving players a chance who have impressed through the youth ranks – something that Guehi has more than accomplished.
He played 14 times for the Under 21s, was part of the Under 17 World Cup winning squad in 2017 and made the European U17 Championship Team of the Tournament in the same year.
Marc Guehi, like team-mate Mitchell, is also under consideration by England boss Southgate
Southgate was at Selhurst Park on Monday and was impressed by the performances of both Guehi and Mitchell.
Guehi faces more competition for selection that his Palace team-mate but it would be no surprise to see Southgate giving him a chance for the upcoming friendlies.
The games against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast will give him a rare chance to see youngsters like Guehi up close in person in what is a big World Cup year.
Luke Thomas (Leicester, 20)
When Southgate was spotted in the stands for Leicester’s 3-2 defeat by Tottenham in January, his eye was particularly drawn to the Foxes full-back.
In what has been a disappointing season for Brendan Rodgers’ side after how close they came to reaching the Champions League over the last two years, Luke Thomas has been one of the few bright points.
He was expected to compete with Ryan Bertrand for a first-team spot this term after the latter’s arrival last summer.
However, Bertrand’s struggles – coupled with Thomas’ good form has given the 20-year-old an extended run in the team.
Luke Thomas has been one of the few bright sparks for Leicester in a disappointing season
He has looked good both in a back four and as a wing-back, which could be particularly appealing for Southgate who has regularly tried and tested both systems.
Thomas has also linked up well with fellow academy product Harvey Barnes, showing he could be a strong force with whoever starts on the left of England’s attack.
If Luke Shaw makes the team, it could come down to a fight between Thomas, Mitchell and a later name on this list to make the squad should Southgate opt to bring two left-backs.
Ben White (Arsenal, 24)
The Arsenal defender got his first taste of international football when he was called up as a reserve for England’s Euro 2020 squad last year.
Ben White played in pre-tournament friendlies against Austria and Romania and then made the tournament as a replacement for the injured Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.
However, he didn’t play a minute during the tournament, only making the bench twice in the seven games England played in.
He then failed to make England’s World Cup qualifying squads until the end of 2021.
White though has impressed at the Emirates since completing his move from Brighton last summer and is showing signs of growing leadership for a side battling for the top four.
Ben White could become more of a regular feature for the England squad in the near future
He has all the attributes to become a regular England starting centre-back for many years to come, in particular his outstanding ability on the ball.
There is still room to grow however as he has been caught out several times this season and perhaps been at fault for several goals from opposing sides.
When asked about White’s chances of making the squad, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said: ‘I don’t know. We are really happy with his performances, how he has adapted, and what he brings to the team.
‘Hopefully, he can get rewarded — the way he trains, he looks at himself and his performances, he’s certainly raising the attention of a lot of people.’
Michael Olise (Crystal Palace, 20)
The fact that there’s three uncapped Crystal Palace players to make this list, on the back of Conor Gallagher already making the squad, shows how well Patrick Vieira is making the most out of his young English talents.
Michael Olise has caught the eye of Southgate with his performances for Crystal Palace, who he joined last summer after an impressing many with his displays at Reading.
He had a difficult start to the season as he arrived carrying an injury, but since the turn of the year he has been in sensational form for the Eagles.
As reported by Sky Sports, across Europe’s top five leagues, no player under the age of 21 has registered more assists per 90 minutes (0.5).
No player across Europe’s top five leagues have reported more assists per game than Michael Olise
Though he is under consideration by Southgate for a call-up, his chances are less likely than those of his Palace team-mates Mitchell and Guehi.
His international future is uncertain, having last played for France Under-18s three years ago and has been named in Nigerian squads since but never joined up.
Even if he was to get called up this week he could still play for France or Nigeria as FIFA regulations say that players under the age of 21 can switch allegiance until they have played three competitive games for a particular country.
Matt Targett (Newcastle, 26)
Not exactly young by football’s harsh standards but a player who is also being watched by England staff due to Southgate’s issues at left-back.
The Newcastle full-back, on loan from Aston Villa, was just behind Chilwell, Shaw and Trippier in the pecking order last year after an impressive season.
He left Villa in January after the signing of Lucas Digne and since then he has made a positive impact at Newcastle to push them away from the relegation zone.
Matt Targett is an outside bet to make the team due to England’s shortage at left-back
Targett is a very reliable defender who has proved he can link up well on the left-flank with an attacker, as shown by his effective partnership with Jack Grealish last season.
He also has incredible energy to get up and down the flank across the 90 minutes.
With youngsters like Mitchell and Thomas emerging onto the scene, there won’t be many better chances for Targett to get his first senior England call-up.
Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace, 22)
The midfielder is the fourth and final player to be included on this list on the back of his stunning season on-loan from Chelsea at Crystal Palace.
He received a late call-up to the squad as a number of players pulled out in November and he made his international debut in their 10-0 win over San Marino.
He has returned a productive output in the Premier League with eight goals and three assists.
Palace will be determined to keep him but the level of his performances might make it tough to take him from Chelsea.
With the level of competition in his position, like Olise he will be an outsider to make the squad despite being on Southgate’s radar.
Conor Gallagher took his first cap in November and will be hoping to return to the fold