Anthony Gordon is making it impossible for Southgate to ignore him

Sport

Not so long ago, Newcastle United’s decision to spend £45m on Anthony Gordon faced scrutiny. The winger failed to make an immediate impact for his new team after joining from Everton in January with some highlighting Gordon’s perceived immaturity. A touchline clash between Gordon and Eddie Howe in April fed the idea that Newcastle had made a mistake.

A lot has changed since then, though. Indeed, Gordon has been the Magpies’ best player this season with the 22-year-old particularly impressive in the 4-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday. Gordon scored one and assisted another against the Blues, bringing his tally for the season to five goals and three assists in 12 league appearances. This still doesn’t quantify his performance level.

This performance came after the last international break of 2023, although Gordon had to watch England’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia from home. Some believe he should have been included in Gareth Southgate’s squad, but the Three Lions boss has so far preferred other options including Chelsea’s Cole Palmer.

In his current form, though, Gordon will make it impossible for Southgate to omit him from the England squad for much longer. The 22-year-old is fulfilling the promise he demonstrated as a teenager at Everton and is performing at the elite level of the English and European game. He deserves a chance to prove himself for England.

“He is a unique player,” said Howe when asked about Gordon and his dramatic improvement. “He’s played games and been robust for us and that’s something we’re putting more and more importance on our players, because players that can continue to play every two or three days is a skill in itself. He has done very well physically this year, because the output he is giving us every week is extremely high. He plays on the edge, he is a fierce competitor and I’m delighted with his progress this season.”

Gordon was Player of the Tournament for England as they went the distance at the Under-21 European Championships earlier this year. Southgate could therefore strengthen the pathway between England’s youth ranks and the senior team by calling up Gordon before Euro 2024 next year.

If England don’t give Gordon a place on their plane to Germany next summer, Scotland will. Steve Clarke has reportedly spoken to the Newcastle winger about switching international allegiance with Scotland on the lookout for an attacking difference-maker who can create something out of nothing in the final third. Gordon fits the bill.

Only Gordon can truly know which country he wants to represent at international level, but from a purely sporting point of view he would be foolish to make a hasty decision. Scotland have improved in recent times, but England are currently operating in the top tier of the international game. Gordon could be a part of that. He could be a key figure for England in years to come.

England are well-stocked for top quality options on the left wing. Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka are all proven in that position, highlighting the standard required to hold down a place in Southgate’s squad. Only France can match England for their attacking strength in depth right now.

In Gordon, though, Newcastle – and England – have a special talent. The winger has translated his previous petulance into arrogance, the kind that gives him the confidence to affect elite level matches. Gordon’s directness would give the Three Lions a different dimension. He is a difference-maker for the Magpies and he could be the same for England.

Author: Mark Hayes