- Gareth Southgate has given numerous players their first international cap during his tenure as England chief, with some becoming key players like Jordan Pickford and Harry Maguire.
- Jesse Lingard, the former Manchester United player, was the first player to receive an England cap under Southgate and went on to play 32 games and score six goals. However, he has been absent from recent selections.
- Southgate may continue to put his faith in youth with the addition of Levi Colwill and Eddie Nketiah to the squad for upcoming matches against Ukraine and Scotland.
Whatever your views on the current England chief Gareth Southgate, there have been a host of new faces that have been given their first international cap during his tenure. Some have continued to don the fabled white colours of England, while some haven’t been so fortunate.
Figures such as Jordan Pickford and Harry Maguire have seemingly become indispensable under the 53-year-old’s watch, while the likes of Lewis Cook and Jack Cork will have you rubbing your eyes and racking your brains as you try to remember their time in an England shirt.
Levi Colwill and Eddie Nketiah are poised to become the latest additions to the former defender’s exclusive list as he may put his faith in youth in England’s two upcoming fixtures. Southgate’s outfit will look to continue their flawless streak in the Euro 2024 qualifiers as they square up against second-placed Ukraine and have a friendly against Scotland to attend to just a few days later.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the first 16 players to be handed a chance to fly the England flag high since Southgate first took up his position at the helm in 2016.
16 Jesse Lingard vs Malta – October 2016
The former Manchester United ace Jesse Lingard, who is currently a free agent, became the first of many to be handed an England cap during Southgate’s time in charge. He went on to play 32 games and notched six goals in that sequence, though the 30-year-old has been absent from the selections of late, with his last minutes coming in 2021.. Although the majority (12) of his games were during international friendlies, Lingard was ever-present in England’s 2018 World Cup campaign, missing just one group stage outing against Belgium.
15 Aaron Cresswell vs Spain – November 2016
The West Ham United left-back featured off the bench when England found themselves two goals to the good against Spain on home soil. Upon Aaron Creswell’s long-awaited arrival, the game ended 2-2. And although the Liverpool-born ace has been a huge part for his club, the same cannot be said for his nation seeing as he only picked up an extra two caps since his debut and has not returned to the fold after being dropped from the squad in March 2018.
14 Michael Keane vs Germany – March 2017
Everton’s Michael Keane has plundered a total of 12 caps for England, with his first coming against Germany in March 2017, but he has struggled to nail down a starting role under Southgate. His record of one goal and one assist is impressive for a centre-back, though his last game – which was an international friendly against Ireland in 2020 – will likely be his final one.
13 Nathan Redmond vs Germany – March 2017
Nathan Redmond’s first – and last – game for England came as a substitute against Germany, who ran out 1-0 victors, though his failure to receive another runaround is no surprise given the fierce competition he had to fend off. The 29-year-old had been heavily involved in Stuart Pearce’s Under-21 outfit and had registered 38 games and 10 goals, which earned him the chance to strut his stuff for the senior side. Unfortunately for the former Southampton man, he is unlikely to get that chance again.
12 James Ward-Prowse vs Germany – March 2017
Redmond’s former Saints teammate James Ward-Prowse played his inaugural England game on the same night against Germany and has gone on to make an additional 10 caps since. His latest came at the end of 2022 in a UEFA Nations League encounter against Italy.
Now, with his well-earned move to West Ham checked off, more opportunities to be part of Southgate’s squad may come his way. Becoming a regular in the squad will be a tall order, however, given the central midfield members Southgate currently has at his disposal.
11 Kieran Trippier vs France – June 2017
Given Southgate’s positive right-back conundrum, Kieran Trippier has etched a very sound England career, having been capped 42 times. In that period, the seasoned defender has notched five assists and scored that famous free kick against Croatia in a World Cup semi-final. Unfortunately, it would be the Three Lions' opponents who had the last laugh that night. Despite the eventual heartbreak, that goal will become one of those where people will ask: “Do you remember when Kieran Trippier scored that free kick?”.
10 Harry Maguire vs Lithuania – October 2017
Under Gareth Southgate’s stewardship, Harry Maguire has cemented himself as a starter in the England set-up, though how much longer he will continue to be in Southgate’s plans given his troubling game time issues he has at Manchester United remains unknown. The 30-year-old defender has been an immovable object since his debut and has gone on to make 57 appearances altogether, with five of those coming in England’s 2022 World Cup run. But, as mentioned, his time as one half of Southgate’s formidable central defensive partnership may be running out.
9 Harry Winks vs Lithuania – October 2017
Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Harry Winks enjoyed an impressive debut under Southgate’s tenure back in October 2017, though his inclusion in proceedings has been very much few and far between since then. After making his mark on his debut, he endured a torrid run of injuries and had to wait another year until his second cap, until going on to make another 8 to make up double figures, but that is not expected to rise any time soon.
8 Jordan Pickford vs Germany – November 2017
Southgate’s ninth debutant Jordan Pickford became an instant hit as he gloved up for his first England appearance against Germany at the back end of 2017. Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope have attempted to threaten his position in the No.1 berth but have both failed, and all things considered, Southgate has no reason to drop him.
It wasn’t the first time, however, that Southgate had given the goalkeeper the opportunity to shine as he also gave him his first cap at Under-21 level two years prior. For the senior side, the Everton shot-stopper has made 54 appearances and has only been rotated as a last resort.
7 Ruben Loftus-Cheek vs Germany – November 2017
The – at the time – Chelsea star was one of many to pick up their first England cap against Germany, but not many shone like Loftus-Cheek did. So much so that he became a regular in Southgate’s squads in 2018 and made four appearances at the 2018 World Cup. His last appearance came in a 3-0 win over the United States back in that year, though his latest move to AC Milan may pave a way back into Southgate’s plans if he can perform.
6 Tammy Abraham vs Germany – November 2017
The Cobham graduate got the nod for England’s two friendlies against Germany and Brazil in November 2017 and managed to feature across both, though he struggled to set the world alight as he failed to net on both occasions. With Harry Kane settled in the centre-forward berth for the time being, it’s difficult for a player like Abraham to find a run of minutes in the England strip, hence the mere 11 appearances. With that in mind, however, someone of Abraham’s ilk would be perfect for that second-choice striker role.
5 Joe Gomez vs Germany – November 2017
Liverpool’s Joe Gomez impressed so much that murmurs that he would be a starter at the 2018 World Cup began to grow. However, an ankle injury meant that the now 26-year-old was unavailable for selection. With how well Maguire had performed in Russia, a smooth pathway back into contention proved too tough for Gomez seeing as he has only made eight appearances since being back fit and raring to go.
4 Jack Cork vs Germany - November 2017
Burnley’s ever-reliable Jack Cork made a solitary four-minute appearance for England as he became Southgate’s 13th debutant since he took charge. The London-born midfielder has played 262 times for the Clarets but never managed to stamp his authority while on international duty. Now 34, it would be a shock if we ever saw him put on an England shirt again.
3 Dominic Solanke vs Brazil – November 2017
After being such a vital cog of England’s well-oiled Under-20’s in the summer before his debut, it seemed as if Solanke was destined to achieve great things for his country. That being said, Solanke has not been close to getting another call-up since. However, at the age of just 25, the spot of Kane’s understudy is not concretely anyone’s at the time of writing which means the Bournemouth man could easily creep his way back into the set-up.
2 James Tarkowski vs Italy – March 2018
James Tarkowski’s first appearance in an England shirt came in early 2018, which was followed up by another in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup. He was, however, omitted from the 23-man squad that Southgate took to Russia to compete at the pinnacle of football. Since being shunned for the World Cup squad, the defender has scarcely been involved in the England conversation having made just one extra showing. With his current team, Everton, struggling at the foot of the table, and with such strong depth at centre-back now, it seems unlikely he will be recalled.
1 Lewis Cook vs Italy – March 2018
The Bournemouth man is another one of Southgate’s debutants to make just the one appearance, which came against Italy in March 2018. Cook, 26, wore the armband for the Under-20’s as they achieved World Cup glory just months before his senior debut, though the midfielder has not shown out for the Three Lions since.