Pushing on from their run to the 2018 World cup semifinal, Gareth Southgate switched England’s tactical wing-back system over.

The new four-man defence allows a balanced mix of three in midfield, with at least one entrusted with carrying the ball forward.

Despite Dele Alli’s injuries or lack of form since the World Cup and Ruben Loftus-Cheek being sidelined with a ruptured achilles.

England are presently spoilt for choice in that creative role, with a host of options being used in EURO 2020 qualifying.

As the Three Lions gear up for the continental showpiece having secured qualification in a 7-nil trouncing of Montenegro; it begs the question:

   Who is England’s best attacking midfielder?

James Maddison in action against Montenegro. (Getty Images)

James Maddison finally made his international debut after withdrawing from the last squad due to illness; which attracted negative headlines as he was found at a casino on the same night.

The Leicester City man has been a revelation in the English top-flight and created the most chances in the Premier League last season.

A prolific set-piece taker with a brilliant shooting technique and a highly-creative passer, his form speaks for itself. Four goals and two assists with a chance creation rate of 2.2 per game.

Maddison is also keen to take his chances; with three shots per game (the most by any Premier League midfielder), and eight more shots than top goalscorer Jamie Vardy.

The highly-rated 22-year-old can well add a superstar influence to the Three Lions with his talent, confidence and a determination to take his chances.

Ross Barkley filled this role immediately following the world cup to admirable success, with a prominent role in the UEFA Nations League and Euros qualifying campaigns. 

Ross Barkley’s best form in recent times has been in an England shirt. (Getty Images)
The Chelsea man is missing the November international fixtures through injury but plays his best football for England. Scoring four goals- double his total England tally before 2019- and three assists in six Euro qualifiers. 

Averaging 2.2 key passes per game, Barkley 
delivers against England’s opponents who defend deep. 

Despite the advantage of having impressed Southgate before his colleagues on this list, Barkley must play regular club football. Which is currently being denied him by another England teammate, Mason Mount.

Mason Mount playing for England. (Getty Images)
Youngster Mason Mount has impressed alongside Chelsea’s academy graduates this season, scoring four and creating one assist in 12 league appearances.

He offers attacking quality and shooting ability with a great work ethic off the ball as well as on it. He is a good influence on the team, too, creating 1.9 key passes per game.

The Portsmouth-born midfielder who has appeared in all five of England’s games since making his debut, donned the ’10’ kit against Montenegro to signify his growing influence in the squad. However, he has begun to look tired in recent weeks. With the game at Wembley his 22nd for club and country this season.

Oxlade-Chamberlain going off for Maddison against Montenegro (Getty Images)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain returned from a year out injured and has been eased back in by Jürgen Klopp. A good run of form for Liverpool with four goals in five games earned a recall to the England set-up.
Technical quality, dribbling, energy and an eye for the spectacular, the 34-caps international is a valid wildcard option.

He can become a key man by continuing this rich vein of form which produced a first England goal in two years against Montenegro.

Gareth Southgate has a lot to ponder in attacking midfield. (Action Images via Reuters)

Needing to compliment the world class talents of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling with creativity and dynamism from midfield presents an eye-catching selection headache for Southgate. 

Where club form hasn’t been transferred to the national team as it were; England’s attacking midfielders have the final game of 2019 against Kosovo to convince Southgate.

If not, it’s back to the grind of club football in a bid to stake a claim ahead of next summer’s tournament.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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