With England’s Euro 2020 campaign on the horizon, Tammy Abraham’s stunning start to the Premier League campaign simply cannot be ignored by Gareth Southgate.
The 21-year-old striker, who recently became the youngest Chelsea player to score a Premier League hat-trick, is the joint-top scorer in the top-flight with seven goals in his opening five games.
It’s a remarkable start to life at the top level, following various loan spells, and Abraham is already knocking on Southgate’s door for an England call-up.
Despite featuring numerous times for England’s various youth teams, and playing in two Three Lions friendlies, Abraham refuses to rule out switching allegiance to Nigeria if he continues to be overlooked.
“I have heard the talk [about being called up by Nigeria],” Abraham said on Saturday.
“When the time comes, the time comes.
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“I have not really focused on that yet. I’m focusing on Chelsea and hopefully scoring goals and getting victories.
“We never know. You can never say never … whatever comes first really.”
Abraham missed out on the most recent England squad, with Southgate selecting Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, and Callum Wilson as his preferred strikers.
However, if Abraham’s form continues, he could be on course to overtake both Wilson and Rashford as second choice ahead of the Euros next year.
Within five games of his Premier League career, the Blues striker finds himself just three goals away from equalling Rashford’s highest ever tally for a season, and halfway towards Wilson’s personal best.
His hat-trick against Wolves on Saturday showed he is capable of scoring every type of goal, which Les Ferdinand highlights as one of Rashford’s weaknesses.
He told talkSPORT: “People talk about natural goalscorers. There’s a desire to get in the box and score goals.
“A lot of modern strikers don’t score scrappy, six-yard goals in the box. They all want to come in from the wing and bend it in the corner.
“I see Marcus as one of those types of strikers. He wants it to be a nice finish, I don’t see him scoring really scrappy goals.
“I’m not sure he’s ever worked at being a pure No.9.”
Meanwhile, the England boss also doubts whether Rashford operates best in a centre-forward role.
“For a long time we have almost wanted Marcus to be that option as a No .9,” said Southgate.
“But I’m still not certain that is where he is happiest and where he does his best work.
“A lot of his development at United was as a ‘wide raider’ and I think he isn’t as strong as Harry Kane with his back to goal holding play up.
“If he plays as a No. 9, he will play it differently to Harry, but a lot of his best work is on the left coming in off the line.”
There can be no doubts, however, about Abraham’s strengths as a No.9, and Southgate will know all about them from his time coaching the striker with the England Under-21s.
Rashford, therefore, faces an uncertain future for his country.
With Abraham threatening to overtake him as second-choice striker, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho are quickly establishing themselves as best pairing either side of Harry Kane.
England’s next round of Euro qualifiers see them travel to the Czech Republic and Bulgaria for two of the biggest tests they’ll face ahead of the tournament next summer.
Should Southgate pick Abraham, the two games could present a fascinating insight into the pecking order for the European Championship.
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