England Squad Gatecrashers, part 1: Harvey Elliott

England Squad Gatecrashers, part 1: Harvey Elliott

By Sam McGuire

Never before has an England manager had such a talented pool of players at their disposal. To say the squad depth is unbelievable would be an understatement. But while Southgate is the envy of a lot of managers across Europe, he’s also in a bit of an unenviable position. Because no matter what decision he makes, unless the Three Lions go on to win the tournament, he’s going to have made the wrong one. 

When there is that much talent available to you, you are expected to win. This is pressure few other managers will have ever experienced. Southgate will have a select few players who are dead certs for the squad but those who have been in fine form during the final few months of the 2023/24 campaign could well gatecrash the 26-man squad. 

In this series, we’re going to look at five players who might have played their way into the thinking of the England boss. 

First up, we’re going to focus on Harvey Elliott. 

Now, the Three Lions have an array of left-footed right-wing options. Cole Palmer has 31 goal involvements in the Premier League, a total no player can better, while both Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden have been involved in 25 goals each in the English top-flight. 

All three probably deserve to start for England. The likelihood is that two of them will start on the bench. Adding a fourth player with a similar profile might seem like overkill, but Elliott is different enough to sneak into the squad. 

The Liverpool midfielder has had a strange campaign. He’s been more of a super-sub for the Reds despite largely impressing whenever he’s been in the starting XI. Manager Jürgen Klopp said as much recently. 

“It’s not that I go back and think ‘OK, what did we all do wrong?. But if I regret one thing a little bit it’s that Harvey didn’t play often enough maybe. Because in a very important, intense period – January, with a lot of injuries – he played really good. He was probably our best player, right wing, right midfield, all these kinds of things. 

“Everybody came back and he had minutes here, minutes there and he didn’t start anymore, came on, big impact. “But it’s really nice that he could show that [against Tottenham].”

But Elliott hasn’t let this bit-part role hurt his performances. The 21-year-old instead sees whatever time he has on the pitch as an opportunity and he’s been sure to make the most of them. 

For example, since February 1st, Elliott has three goals and eight assists in 1,085 minutes across all competitions. That is a goal involvement every 98 minutes. What makes this even more impressive is that he’s not really been a starter. He’s having to come on and make an impact. And he’s doing it. 

His output is even more remarkable when you factor in he’s spent a lot of time in midfield for the Reds too. In the Premier League this term across all midfielders, he ranks in the 88th percentile for Goals per 90, the 82nd percentile for Expected Goals and 97th percentile for Expected Assists. Elliott is in the 95th percentile for Chances Created per 90 and 93rd percentile for crosses completed. 

So, he’s a dual threat. He’s a goal threat and a creator. 

He puts in a shift defensively too. The Liverpool No19 wins almost 71% of his tackles, putting him in the 90th percentile for this metric. He’s in the 100th percentile for blocks, averaging 1.3 per 90 and the 100th percentile for possessions won in the final third with 1.45. 

The former Fulham deserves to be in the conversation based on performances alone. 

Elliott can play as a right-winger in a front three. He can play as a right-sided midfielder in a four but he can also play as part of a midfield trio. And this versatility could be a decisive factor. Southgate is famed for his tactical fluidity and he could well be tempted into naming another player who can play a variety of roles in his squad. It gives him options. It gives him different ways to win games. 

(Cover image from IMAGO)

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