Gareth Southgate Should Give Harvey Barnes His First England Cap Against Wales

International breaks got a lot of stick at the best of times. However, this international break - that comes just three weeks into a Premier League season set to be the most congested ever - has been met with a particular lack of appetite.

Add to that the truly bonkers weekend of top flight action we were just treated to and getting excited about a spectatorless meeting between France vs Ukraine is proving rather challenging.

This apathy was relieved somewhat by the announcement of the England squad last Thursday, with a host of exciting new faces included.

The free-scoring Dominic Calvert-Lewin is in line with a maiden Three Lions appearance | PETER BYRNE/Getty Images

Runway model and part-time Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin got his first call up after a ludicrously good start to the season. The once goal shy 23-year-old had been on fire throughout September, netting on five occasions in the league and also bagging a hat trick in the EFL Cup.
It's no wonder he made it into 90min's Team of the Month.

The goal's kept on flowing against Brighton on Saturday as well, with Calvert-Lewin again scoring in the Toffees' dramatic 4-2 victory.

Arsenal wideman Bukayo Saka could also receive his debut cap against either Wales or Belgium. The 19-year-old has put in some very impressive displays since bursting onto the scene last season. However, as he was born to Nigerian parents, you do wonder if Gareth Southgate's plans on cynically sticking him on for five minutes to remove the potential of him switching allegiances in the future.

Rounding off Southgate's trio of newbies is Harvey Barnes, whose rise to stardom over the past few seasons has been a satisfying slow burn. The kind of story better suited to an 400 page novel than three minutes skills compliation on YouTube.

Not that Barnes would struggle to fill one of these videos. In fact, he could probably even reach the three minute mark using highlights from this season alone.

Barnes kicked off the campaign in scintillating fashion, returning to haunt West Brom - the club where he made a name for himself on loan. Operating down the left flank, the 22-year-old played with a freedom and fearlessness seldom found elsewhere in the top flight.

Every time the Foxes were in possession, Barnes thought positively, either making runs into the box or driving the ball forward himself. Overall, he racked up 219 progressive yards - far higher than what he averaged towards the back end of last season.

The fact he didn't grab a goal against the Baggies was down to some wasteful finishing with the wideman failing to convert any of his five shots.

Barnes took his goal well against Burnley | Pool/Getty Images

Barnes experienced no such issues against Burnley - the town of his birth. He again surged past Sean Dyche's resolute Clarets, racking up even better progressive yards numbers than he did in the West Brom game. This time he also managed to find the back of the net, sweeping in Jamie Vardy's cutback in the first half. Only a string of fine saves from fellow England international Nick Pope prevented Barnes grabbing another in the Foxes 4-2 win.

The Leicester academy also grabbed an assist. It was a man of the match performance and a genuine contender for his best ever display in a blue shirt.

Barnes has continued to impress since that magnificent exhibition as well. In Leicester's well documented 5-2 win over Manchester City, Barnes threat on the counter was vital in unsettling the Citizens' defence. Saying that, it really does not take much to rattle Pep Guardiola's crumbling back four these days.

The only blip Barnes has experienced this season was during his side's shocking 3-0 defeat to West Ham, a game in which not a single Foxes player escaped with any credit.

On this evidence Barnes' Three Lions call up is well deserved, but as James Maddison and Jack Grealish has discovered, fantastic club performances can sometimes not be enough to force you way into Southgate's international setup.

Although his manager may be against the idea, giving Barnes a taste of playing for England in Thursday's friendly against Wales would not only be a good idea, but also warranted.

Looking through the options for England's two wide positions, it's hard to argue against the Leicester man getting the nod. It is likely that Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho will be playing close to 90 minutes against Belgium which leaves the door wide open for Barnes to earn his first call up.

On current form, he deserves the start more than Marcus Rashford and Southgate already knows what he's getting from Mason Mount. Throwing Barnes into the mix would not only be just reward for his recent great performance, it would also offer Southgate something to think about as we edge towards this Euro 2020 (2021).

Source : 90min