Sheffield United duo George Baldock and Jack O’Connell are “pencilled in” for an England call-up, according to the Mirror (28/1, page 45).
Gareth Southgate is said to be impressed with the pair this season and will include them in his squad for upcoming friendlies with Denmark and Italy in March.
Southgate has been seen at Bramall Lane on several occasions this term and Chris Wilder has backed his players to receive international recognition.
“I’ve bumped into Gareth on a couple of occasions when he’s been at a few of our games here, and I’m sure not always to watch opposition players either,” Wilder was quoted by the Metro.
“I’m sure he wants to keep a close eye on one or two of our boys. I don’t believe he’s selective to the big clubs. He’s doing a brilliant job with young players and I believe he’ll pick players who are in form.
“I’m sure he’ll have looked at a few of our players. There’s a really good group of English players that will be pushing hard to stake a claim and why shouldn’t some of my players be in the frame?”
Why Baldock and O’Connell deserve England call-up
It makes sense that Southgate is taking an increasingly closer look at United. The newly promoted side have gained many admirers during their first Premier League campaign in 12 years.
They currently sit eighth in the table after 24 games. Wilder has been praised for his tactical ingenuity and defensively few others in the division can match them.
Only runaway leaders Liverpool have conceded fewer than the Blades’ 23 league goals. Baldock and O’Connell have been at the heart of that, starting every top flight game to date.
It is central defence where Southgate is particularly struggling to find a solution currently. O’Connell merits inclusion as much as, say, Tyrone Mings or Fikayo Tomori – who were both selected in the last squad.
For Baldock at right-back it is a slightly different matter. Trent Alexander-Arnold is the standout option in the position, but Southgate has plenty of other choices in Kieran Trippier, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Kyle Walker.
Baldock is also eligible to play for Greece and the Telegraph reports they want to call the 26-year-old up as well.