Seven exciting international debutants to watch out for over domestic break
Holly Thackeray | March 21, 2016
Seven sensational new call-ups
This international break is one of the last chances for coaches across the continent to shuffle their packs and experiment before Euro 2016, or alternatively freshen the ranks if they failed to reach France, meaning the forthcoming fixtures could prove extremely revealing.
There looks to be a sprinkling of new faces seeking to gatecrash squads at this stage, with a mix of late bloomers and young-guns jostling for debuts across some so-called friendly clashes.
So, Coral highlight seven to look out for over the coming couple of weeks…
Jonathan Tah (Germany)
Die Mannschaft (10/3 to win Euro 2016) have been picky about upsetting the apple cart of late, so only towering young centre half Tah is in line for a potential debut as Joachim Low tinkers with his team ahead of the France finals.
The 20-year-old talent has impressed with bullish performances befitting a much more mature player in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen, and has been duly rewarded with the chance of a maiden cap with Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng and Schalke skipper Benedikt Howedes sidelined.
It seems unlikely with Germany’s defensive depth that Tah could make it on the plane this summer, but England and Italy should be excellent tests.
Vincent Janssen (Netherlands)
After the Netherlands flopped in qualifying, players are fighting for their international futures rather than a ticket to France, with a changing of the guard in the off.
Looking for a little extra spark up top, Clockwork Orange have drafted in emerging dangerman Janssen of Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar.
As joint leading Dutch top-tier scorer, the 21-year-old has rightly attracted attention from Danny Blind at the expense of Robin van Persie as he attempts to rebuild.
Those boots of Van Persie’s are big ones to fill, but the flexible forward will be hoping to thrive against the Three Lions and France after hitting 20 goals plus five assists for his club. Is he another Dutch attacker destined for greatness?
Sergi Roberto (Spain)
Just ask David De Gea about patience – the super stopper has had to bide his time to feature regularly between the Roja posts and now Catalan jack-of-all-trades Roberto, 24, is seeking his breakthrough bow.
The quality of Spain’s midfield means it is a triumph indeed to be included and the Barcelona boy has perhaps gained the nod over Atletico Madrid man Saul Niguez for his versatility.
World Cup-winning coach Vicente del Bosque said of adaptable Roberto: “he can fit in anywhere”, but tellingly stated “we see him as a midfielder”, which will prove handy after Andres Iniesta was deemed unfit.
The tidy utility player should be able to keep things ticking over against the Italians and Romania, as the Euro holders continue their warm-up.
Federico Bernardeschi (Italy)
Those fans that have been craving more young blood in the Azzurri squad should be somewhat appeased by Antonio Conte’s recent selection of Fiorentina fledgling Bernardeschi.
The Florence-based flank sensation is still just 22 but has the skills to dazzle Spain and Germany out wide, after his incredible rise for Viola.
A supposed Manchester United target, Bernardeschi appears to have beaten out another prominent future star in Domenico Berardi of Sassuolo and, should he impress, could force his way into Conte’s thinking as a surprise ace in the pack for summer.
There is also another excellent inclusion to Italy’s roster, as Conte could give classy Brazil-born midfield shield Jorginho a first cap.
Having starred for Scudetto chasers Napoli, as one of the most underrated cogs in Maurizio Sarri’s superb season as Little Donkeys boss, this recognition is well earned.
An apparent Arsenal target, Jorginho, 24, can now see how he fares outside Serie A against the top-draw opponents in Spain and Germany’s jam-packed quality midfields.
Danny Drinkwater (England)
As for Three Lions fans, Roy Hodgson has handed another of Leicester’s bright sparks a chance, as former Manchester United academy man Drinkwater follows in Jamie Vardy’s footsteps by joining the England squad.
How will the diligent midfielder, equally adept at contributing at either end of the pitch, adapt outside of the Foxes fold when thrown in at international level?
Germany is a huge test should the precise passer be picked to feature, but 26-year-old Manchester-born Drinkwater may find there is an opportunity to squeeze his way into the summer selection, with Jack Wilshere still an injury niggle.
Few Englishmen have been better than underrated Drinkwater, who quietly goes about his job, so this reward is just desserts.
N’Golo Kante (France)
Last but by no means least, another alert Fox features here as Kante, arguably the driving force behind Leicester’s Premier League success, will link-up with Euro 2016 hosts France.
Les Bleus (11/4 to win the European Championship) have majestic midfield options in abundance, but Kante is the kind of player to sweat blood for his club and cover every blade of grass – attributes which could come in handy for the hosts.
“He’s a modern midfielder. He might not be very tall, but he’s very useful. Kante wins balls, has great transition play, can be found everywhere, and always has solutions… he’s a box-to-box player, like they say in England,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.
“I am excited to see what he does at the national team, and how he fits into the new environment.” So are we!