It has recently been revealed that Bayer Leverkusen whizz-kid Leon Bailey is eligible to play for the England national side courtesy of two of his grandparents holding British passports. This has led to speculation that Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate could be set to include the Jamaican-born star in his World Cup squad.
England certainly needs Bailey more than Bailey needs England. The young winger is also eligible to play for Malta and Belgium, as well of his country of birth Jamaica.
He has played for the Jamaican under-23 side, but not the full national side. It has been reported that Bailey has refused to play for the senior national team until the standards of football in the country improved. However, if the media reports are to be believed, Bailey is unlikely to ever represent the country of his birth at international.
Bailey is a highly-rated youngster
At 20 years-old, the world is Bailey’s oyster at the minute. The winger has impressed in the German Bundesliga with Bayer, having started his professional career in Belgium playing for Genk.
The youngster has scored 11 times in 23 domestic appearances this season for Bayer Leverkusen, while also producing five assists.
His performances have not gone unnoticed and he is now regarded as one of the most promising young players in the European game. The likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham have scouted the winger in recent months. He certainly appears to have a bright future.
Does he want to play for England?
It is unclear whether the youngster is willing to switch his international allegiance at this stage. Those who claim to be close to the youngster claim that the opportunity to play for England would be too hard to turn down for Bailey.
With the English FA seemingly keen to get the winger to commit to their cause, Bailey playing for the Three Lions is looking increasingly likely in the near future.
There is a history of players from the Caribbean and Jamaica, in particular, choosing to represent England. The most famous of those players was obviously 1980’s and 90’s star John Barnes, who starred for the Three Lions and Liverpool.
There is a more recent example in Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, who just like Bailey was born in the Jamaican capital Kingston. However, the former Liverpool star moved to England when he was just five years old.
Sterling is reported to be a close friend of Bailey’s. The treatment the young winger has encountered from certain sections of the Three Lions fans may persuade him not to recommend playing for Gareth Southgate’s side.
England have a dearth of wide attackers
England heads to Russia this summer as second favourites to qualify from Group G at odds of 6/5. Obviously, Belgium are favourites to win the group, as they have a sensation squad of players, including Premier League stars Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne amongst others.
The England squad is not the strongest that has been to a World Cup in recent years. One of the main weaknesses at the minute is the lack of wide attackers or wingers. Boss Southgate has played wing-backs to make up for the lack of wide players available to him.
Sterling is the standout wide player for the Three Lions. However, beyond the City man, the options are very scarce. Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard had a purple patch earlier in the season, but has not been able to continue that form.
The likes of Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford have also been used out wide. However, the pair’s natural position is through the centre of the attack. Then there are the likes of Adam Lallana and Michail Antonio who have endured injury and form problems of late.
The problem is so bad that recent Arsenal leavers Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain still look to have a chance to get into the 23-man squad for this summer’s big event.
Bailey would be a very welcome and useful option for England to have at their disposal this summer. The Three Lions will need all the help they can get to reach the latter stages of the competition.
Will Leon Bailey be in England’s World Cup squad?
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