There was some disappointment at Sheffield United when Dean Henderson was not named in the latest England squad.
Manager Gareth Southgate has admitted the Under-21 international is close to a senior call-up. That gained momentum when Southgate was spotted at Bramall Lane for the last two matches there.
Yet when it came to it, Burnley’s Nick Pope got the nod alongside regulars Jordan Pickford and Tom Heaton.
Henderson can consider himself a little unlucky. After all, he kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the Championship last season.
However, it seems the Manchester United loanee’s time will almost certainly come and has been backed by Blades boss Chris Wilder.
“We obviously rate Dean and looking at the goalkeepers he’s up against, obviously I’m going to say he’s right up there,” Wilder told BBC Radio Sheffield.
“Would I be surprised if he’s included in the national side? No I wouldn’t.”
Another Sheffield United player who deserves England recognition
It could be argued, though, that there is another in Wilder’s squad who equally warrants a chance in the national team – Jack O’Connell.
One of the biggest talking points in Southgate’s latest squad for Euro 2020 qualifiers with Bulgaria and Kosovo is the inclusion of Tyrone Mings.
Mings has been a good defender for Aston Villa over the past season and a bit. But Villa conceded 20 more goals last term than the Blades – who alongside Middlesbrough had the best defence in England’s second tier in 2018/19.
It’s believed Mings was selected because of his natural ability as a left-sided centre-back. O’Connell has the same attributes – as the always excellent BA Analytics suggests on Twitter:
Genuinely have to question (bias I know) some squad choices. Grealish has to be in. I think Mings is a very very good CB. I also think over the last 12 months Jack O Connell has proven to be better and offer more in both sides of the game.
— BA Analytics (@Blades_analytic) August 29, 2019
Why O’Connell isn’t playing for England
The issue could be that O’Connell has excelled in a three-man back line. Despite enjoying success with this at the 2018 World Cup, since then England have consistently played a flat four.
While this would smack of tactical narrow-mindedness from Southgate, there is evidence to back this up. The 48-year-old had admitted in the past this is why Wolverhampton Wanderers captain Conor Coady hasn’t been been selected.
“I can’t say anything other than positive things from what I’ve seen, but the system we’re playing at the moment, it’s difficult to map him into, and how would he be as a centre back in a four?” Southgate was quoted by the Birmingham Mail.
“He’s unfortunate at the moment, it’s not a system we’re looking to play.
“But we have done in the past, and if we’re thinking about that as a possibility moving forward, then he would definitely be in the frame.”
So unless England change their system, O’Connell almost certainly won’t be considered. And we think that is a crying shame.