Newcastle’s Convincing Win Over Crystal Palace Shows Gareth Southgate’s Potential English Starting XI, Led by Eddie Howe’s Homegrown Talents, with Four Goal Scorers

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Where was Gareth Southgate? Four English scorers and eight starters for Newcastle, with two under-age internationals coming from the bench. Never mind St James’ Park, it is starting to feel like St George’s Park on Tyneside.

There were a further three unused Englishmen in reserve, and there is an argument to say Eddie Howe and Newcastle could win Euro 2024 all on their own.

Howe did not even realise those numbers when Mail Sport presented them to him. ‘You’re telling me,’ he said. ‘I had no idea, so it’s not a deliberate ploy. It was just picking the team that gave us the best chance of winning, whatever nationality that is. But it’s great to see.’

There were also three England players for Crystal Palace – goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and defenders Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell. Not that they looked like it here. Newcastle’s stars did – and five of those eight starters have never been capped.

Given the debate around pathways for English talent – Liverpool had one starter on Saturday, Manchester City and Arsenal both three – it is remarkable to consider a Champions League team has such a core of homegrown players, the bulk of whom have never played internationally.

Sean Longstaff made a serious case for England call-up with another impressive display

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Two of them should be. Sean Longstaff and Anthony Gordon, 25 and 22 respectively, are in the form of their life and getting better week on week. Most players do under Howe. Gordon may have to be patient with England well stocked in attacking wide areas, but Longstaff, in midfield, has a serious case to be included now.

As one bookmaker cheekily tweeted, ‘Sean Longstaff is a move to Al-Ettifaq away from making the England team’. 

There will be no Saudi team allowed to touch Longstaff, however, not when he is currently the driving force at the club majority owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund.

Since he returned to the side following injury seven matches ago, Newcastle are unbeaten with an aggregate score of 21-3. We called him the ‘facilitator’ a few weeks back, meaning his presence had freed the likes of Bruno Guimaraes to impact elsewhere. 

Forget that, Longstaff is far more than just an enabler of others. He has three goals of his own in that time, including one here and another during the 4-1 demolition of Paris Saint-Germain, on a night when he bossed the midfield.

And what of his team-mates? While Guehi was made to look ordinary, Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles cruised through another 90 minutes after his emergence from the shadows. 

Only injury to Sven Botman has him in the team, but after four victories in five with Lascelles at the heart of the defence, there is no reason why he should not stay there. England? He can’t be that far behind given Southgate’s issues in that position.

Anthony Gordon is in the form of his life but England are well stocked in attacking wide areas

Anthony Gordon is in the form of his life but England are well stocked in attacking wide areas

Jacob Murphy, meanwhile, scored one and assisted two against Palace, and Dan Burn continued his brilliant run at left-back.

Then there are the capped trio of Nick Pope, Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson, who scored his fifth of the season. Did goalkeeper Pope look better than current squad member Johnstone? Yes. And did Trippier look better than every other player on the pitch? Yes.

As Steve Harmison remarked to me on Saturday – and he knows a thing or two about top-level sport – Trippier is a truly ‘elite’ footballer. 

He is Newcastle’s grown-up and, on full-time, it was telling when he broke from the group to put his arm around Sandro Tonali, the Italian midfielder who is set to learn the length of his ban for illegal betting.

Southgate, meanwhile, could do a lot worse than take a punt on one or two of those in black and white.

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