Joe Willock: Uncapped Arsenal midfielder could be England’s Euro 2020 wild card
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Joe Willock of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Fulham and Newcastle United at Craven Cottage on May 23, 2021 in London, England.A limited number of fans will be allowed into Premier League stadiums as Coronavirus restrictions begin to ease in the UK. (Photo by Newcastle United/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Consistent Premier League minutes were few and far between for Arsenal youngster Joe Willock prior to Christmas, so, a January switch to Newcastle was a deal best for all parties.

The 21-year-old has been nothing short of a revelation since his move to St. James' Park- scoring eight times in 14 appearances for the Magpies.

Goals against  Manchester City, Liverpool, Leicester, and West Ham- all top six sides- carried Newcastle to a twelfth place finish despite them being tipped for relegation at the start of the season.

A new record

Willock carved his name into the history books, becoming the youngest player to score in 7 (or more) consecutive Premier League matches- joining the likes of Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy, and Jamie Vardy.

The midfielder’s mesmeric streak of goals saw him equal Newcastle United icon Alan Shearer’s record of seven goals in consecutive games set in 1996- firmly cementing his legacy in the history books.

Willock finished the season in style, ranking 10th in the form charts across an active pool of 402 players in the Premier League- falling short to the likes of Gareth Bale and Mohamed Salah.

 

A good season

Willock finished the season in style, ranking 10th in the form table across an active pool of 402 players in the Premier League- falling short to the likes of Gareth Bale and Mohamed Salah.

With the exception of Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold (5th), Willock was the highest-ranking Englishman in the table, potentially sparking the interest of England manager Gareth Southgate.

Southgate is set to announce his squad tomorrow, Tuesday 25 May, as preparations begin for Euro 2020 this summer.

Many of the names will be set in stone, with few places left up for grabs.

Willock’s late-season surge, however, may have put a spanner in Southgate’s plans- potentially forcing the manager to rejig his tournament blueprint.

Having played for the Three Lions at youth level, Willock is uncapped for the senior team, and whilst his form suggests otherwise, he would be considered a shock addition to the squad.

However, injuries to other players and the introduction of 26-man squads by UEFA could see the playmaker slip his way into the side tipped to bring England international glory for the first time since 1966.

Set to fight for his place at the Emirates next season, Willock’s current battle is with other England midfielder’s also vying for remaining roster spots.

 

Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse featured in the most recent squad; however, after a stellar start to the season, the Saints dropped down to 15th which could harm the set-piece specialist’s chances.

West Ham's Jesse Lingard is another on the fringes of the squad, going head to head with the Arsenal academy graduate.

In a similar fashion to Willock, the 28-year-old opted for a loan move away from his parent club, Manchester United, with the hope of being recalled to the national team- winning the Premier League's April Player of the Month in the process.

If Willock is to be called up by Southgate, he will be one of seven players since 1970 to be called up to a major tournament for England having not been capped before joining the likes of Marcus Rashford and Alexander Arnold.

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