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Can Harvey Barnes stake a claim for England selection ahead of Euro 2020?

Harvey Barnes

Harvey Barnes has always been an extremely talented footballer. The problem was, that much of the time his performances on the pitch so often failed to result in goals or assists.

The 22-year-old has always had the attributes of a player who would experience great success in the Premier League; his pace, directness and athleticism have never been in doubt but question marks have frequently surrounded his effectiveness. 

A successful loan spell spent with West Brom during the first half of last season saw Barnes score nine goals and provide seven assists for the Baggies, earning him an early recall to the King Power last January. 

However, despite a string of promising displays upon his return to Leicester, he ended the campaign having scored just one goal, leaving many questioning if he was in fact good enough to cut it in the top-flight.

This season, though, things have really started to take shape for Harvey Barnes at Leicester City. A regular starter under Brendan Rodgers, the Burnley-born wide man has notched four goals and six assists in the Premier League so far alongside a further one goal in the FA Cup and one assist in the League Cup - a pretty solid return from 27 appearances. 

Barnes’ last minute equaliser against Chelsea on Saturday was his third goal in as many games, and also means that he is now the Premier League’s top scorer  against his fellow Englishman this year.

Barnes is now staking a genuine claim to be considered for international selection ahead of this summer’s European Championships, and should he continue in this rich vein of form will surely make himself unavoidable to Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate. 

“There is a lot of top boys ahead of him at this moment in that position for England,” said Brendan Rodgers, speaking of Barnes’ chances of being considered for an international call-up this summer. 

“Raheem Sterling is one of the best players in world football now in that position. [Jadon] Sancho has been doing really well.

“There is no doubt as he improves his game and the tools he has, if he can maximise those, there is no doubt hopefully in the next couple of years that he can progress to that level.”

Of course, what Rodgers says is correct and Barnes will certainly have his work cut out breaking into the England squad this summer. Raheem Sterling is one of the first names on the Three Lions’ teamsheet, while Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho is currently enjoying the most glistening stint of a burgeoning career in Germany.

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Alongside the 19-year-old’s extremely impressive 15-goal haul from 28 appearances in all competitions this season, Sancho has assisted a further 16 goals - 13 of which have fallen in the Bundesliga. Barnes may now be steadily progressing in the Premier League, but at the moment he is still a way off being considered a bigger threat than England’s teenage superstar. 

Southgate could select as many as four players adept to playing in the wide areas when it comes to finalising his squad for this summer’s major tournament, however. With Sancho and Sterling all but confirmed and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford likely to be taken as a winger rather than a striker, that could leave one remaining spot for a fourth-choice wide midfielder in England’s 23-man squad for Euro 2020. 

If this proves to be the case, then only Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi would be viewed as competition for Barnes and, based on current form, you would find few people building a stronger case for the Blues winger ahead of the Foxes wideman. 

The fitness of Marcus Rashford still remains a doubt, too. The 22-year-old is currently sidelined with a back injury and isn’t expected to return in the immediate future, leaving question marks surrounding his involvement at the Euro’s. Rashford is a key part of England’s squad so it would come as a huge blow if he were to miss out. 

While that does look unlikely at this stage considering there is still six months until the tournament kicks off, it will certainly be in the back of Gareth Southgate’s mind and he will no doubt be keeping half an eye on Barnes as a potential replacement for Rashford, should the status of his current injury deteriorate. 

Currently betting odds 12/1 to make England’s final 23-man squad for Euro 2020, Harvey Barnes’ recent rise to stardom in the Premier League is clearly not going unnoticed. Though there is still plenty he can improve on - starting with his consistency for Leicester - the signs are extremely promising for this young man who is so desperate to prove himself among the country’s elite. 

When all is said and done, though, the statistics speak for themselves and currently Barnes is the most effective English footballer in the Premier League. Should this sort of form continue, it would perhaps prove foolish for Gareth Southgate to overlook him this summer, as England attempt to finally bring football home.

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