Championship England XI: Which second tier players have the ability to one day pull on the England shirt?
 Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United controls the ball during a pre-season friendly match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Optus Stadium on July 17, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

GK- Freddie Woodman (Swansea City)

Currently on loan at Swansea City from parent club Newcastle United, Freddie Woodman is well regarded in the North East. The 22-year-old is yet to make a first team appearance for the Magpies, but is earning plaudits in the division below. With a clean sheet percentage of 36% and making roughly 2.7 key saves per game, Woodman has been a crucial part of the Swans early season form.

Shout out for West Bromwich Albion shot stopper Sam Johnstone and Blackburn Rovers keeper Christian Walton, who, along with Woodman, boast the best clean sheet record for an English keeper in the league.

RB- Jayden Bogle (Derby County)

At only 18 years of age, last season Derby County’s Jayden Bogle found himself a crucial cog in Frank Lampard’s first managerial campaign. The defender made 40 appearances in a season where Derby went all the way to the play-off final. Now, one full year of experience later, the 19-year-old right back is part of a Derby side who seem to be suffering a hangover from last seasons disappointing finish. Averaging 2.2 tackles per game coupled with 1.4 key passes this season, Bogle is competent in both attack and defence, with age clearly on his side.

Shout outs for an out of position Matty Cash at Nottingham Forest and impressive summer acquisition Darnell Furlong at West Brom.

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CB- Ben White (Leeds United)

With just 15 appearances on loan at Peterborough United in League One last season, very few would have expected on loan Brighton and Hove Albion man to step into the massive shoes left by Pontus Jansson at Leeds United. However, one PFA Player of the month award and five clean sheets later, it’s clear Leeds have a player on their hands. A dominant presence in the air and collected with the ball at his feet, the 22-year-old looks to be the full package. His 2.4 tackles per game rank as the highest of any Englishmen in his position and his 55 accurate passes per game demonstrate his perfect fit into a Bielsa style of play.

CB- Joe Worrall (Nottingham Forest)

Nottingham Forest’s start to the season has been fairly surprising for most Championship fans. Very few expected French manager Sabri Lamouchi to take to the division as well as he has, as Forest sit second in the table with just a singular loss to their name. An important part of their success has been how solid Forest have been in defensive, especially the centre back performances of academy product Joe Worrall. The 22-year-old has started in all eleven of Forest’s Championship games this season, playing a significant roll in a squad that boasts the joint-second best defensive record in the division. With three U21 appearances to his name already, could Worrall potentially feature for England in the future?

Shout outs for Matt Clarke at Derby, Dael Fry at Middlesbrough and Ben Davies at Preston North End.

LB- Joe Bryan (Fulham)

Scott Parker’s Fulham side have been fairly inconsistent so far this season. Despite this, they hold arguably one of the strongest squads in the league and therefore it is fair to say the London side are underperforming this campaign. However, one man who has been impressing regularly is Joe Bryan. With 3.3 tackles per game and two assists to his name this season, Bryan is the embodiment of the modern day full-back, up and down the pitch for the full 90, yet also holds the ability to fill in into a back three when needed.

Notable mention for Forest’s Jack Robinson, who has played a crucial role in their solid defence thus far.

CM- Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United)

The heartbeat of Marcelo Bielsa’s side, Kalvin Phillips has been at Leeds since he was 14 and epitomises the spirit of the West Yorkshire side. Over the summer, the 23-year-old was subject to multiple bids of over £20 million from Premier League sides, including Aston Villa, yet Leeds kept hold of their star midfielder as they mounted another promotion campaign. Sitting in front of the defence, Phillips breaks up opposition attacks with his strong tackling and ability to read the game. In possession, he has an impressive range of passing and an eye for goal from distance. If Leeds are to ever escape the Championship, Phillips is crucial in making that happen, whilst he is destined to play in the top flight, whether it’s with or without his boyhood club.

CM- John Swift (Reading)

Creative midfielder John Swift has been impressing in the Championship for a number of seasons now. Swift, an academy product of Chelsea, made his Premier League debut in 2014, yet has since failed to break into the side at his parent club and after three loan spells away from Stamford Bridge, landed at Reading in 2016. A key part of a Jap Staam side that made the play-off final in his debut season, Swift has remained at Reading as they have stumbled through the following two Championship campaigns. Many Royals fans have viewed Swift as the only shining light in their side and this is clear to see so far this season. Reading sit just inside the relegation zone with just two wins to their name. However, Swift’s two goals and four assists in the opening eleven games highlight his attacking prowess from midfield.

CM- Matt Grimes (Swansea City)

Swansea City’s surprising early season form has a lot to do with the performances of club captain Matt Grimes. Grimes broke through at Exeter City in 2013, earning a move to then Premier League Swansea in 2014. After a few unsuccessful loan spells, Grimes found himself in Swansea’s starting eleven following the Welsh teams relegation from the top division and since then has become integral to the Swans. With the versatility to fill the gaps in defence and the technical ability needed to control a midfield, Grimes has overcome his disappointing loan spells to become one of the more consistent Championship central midfielders. At 24 with a decent amount of experience, could Grimes kick on and rediscover his potential expected of him after his breakthrough at Exeter?

Credit in the centre of midfield also goes to Reading’s youthful Ovie Ejaria, Preston star man Ben Pearson, Bristol City skipper Josh Brownhill, and QPR’s U20 international Eberichi Eze.

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RW- Jarrod Bowen (Hull City)

With a tally of 22 goals and 4 assists from the wing last season, many expected Hull City’s Jarrod Bowen to be playing Premier League football this year. However, the Tigers managed to hang on to their star winger and Bowen looks set to replicate last season’s astonishing form. With four goals and two assists in the opening 11 matches, Bowen is the illustration of the perfect Championship winger, dangerous and deadly in attack, with a willingness to track back and do the dirty work for his team. Whilst few will expect Hull to be up there come the end of the season, with a player like Bowen on their hands they always have the potential to win games and at 22, it’s likely he’s a player who will be playing Premier League football at some point in his career.

LW- Grady Diangana (West Bromwich Albion)

Born in Democratic Republic of Congo but raised in England, Grady Diangana has two England U20 appearances to his name and is attracting plaudits from all over the country. Diangana is on loan at West Brom from parent club West Ham United and has found the net four times already this season. Diangana is your classic winger, pace to burn and the skillset to match. At only 21 years old, he’s a player who still has a lot of maturing to do if he is to add to the 17 Premier League appearances already under his belt. Diangana will hope his loan performances this season aid his chances in a West Ham squad next year and his age means he has plenty of time to learn and add to his already seriously talented ability.

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ST- Ollie Watkins (Brentford)

The top scoring Englishman in the league with seven goals in the opening 11 games, Ollie Watkins has filled the void left by Neal Maupay last summer. He’s had to adapt his game from playing as a winger to a centre forward, which has allowed him to be only three behind last seasons individual goal tally of 10 for the whole season. Watkins made his name at Exeter City, where he picked up the Football League Young Player of the Year award in 2017 before moving on to the Bees. Brentford are a side who many tipped to make the play-offs this year, yet after a shaky start they sit mid-table having already lost five games. It’s likely Brentford will overcome their poor form, especially if Watkins continues finding the back of the net in the manner he is currently.

Clearly, a Championship England XI would struggle in a game against Gareth Southgate’s current squad, but who knows, will any of these names will be featuring for England in Qatar 2022?

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