Jarrad Branthwaite hasn’t been included in Gareth Southgate’s full England squad even though he has enjoyed a terrific start to the season with Everton.
Instead of making Southgate’s full squad, Branthwaite has joined up with former Blues star Lee Carsley’s Under-21s for their upcoming games, including one to take place in Liverpool.
The Everton defender won the European Championships last summer as Carsley’s squad brought that trophy home for the first time since 1984.
That experience together with his time in Holland with PSV Eindhoven, makes the former Carlise youngster one of the very few Toffees players who has actually won silverware.
At the beginning of the campaign he wasn’t included in Sean Dyche’s first team as the manager continued to favour his former Burnley centre-back partnership of James Tarkowski and Micheal Keane.
But Keane’s persistent errors and weakness eventually forced Dyche to take him out of the team and bring Branthwaite in, something I had long advocated for.
Athough it seems he was always ready to play the youngster following his comments about his determination to keep him last summer.
Since then the 21-year-old has been outstanding, putting in superbly consistent performances alongside the hugely experienced Tarkowski.
Not only has Branthwaite’s obvious physical talents been on display, it is his coolness, composure and level-headedness that impresses most of all.
Together with the emergence of Vitalii Mykolenko as a much improved left-back who has also produced some fine performances recently, Branthwaite coming into the side has very significantly improved Everton’s defence.
And while most of the focus on the Blues problems this season has been on the failure of the forwards to score goals, the decline in defensive effectiveness since the campaign kicked-off has been as big an issue.
While perhaps a call up to the full England squad might be considered a little premature, I would argue Branthwaite is as good an English centre-back as there is in the Premier League.
To be honest I think if he was playing for Chelsea or Manchester City he would be in Southgate’s senior squad.
Critically though for Everton, it is most important that Branthwaite continues to perform at the level he has been so far this season. Then perhaps a full England call-up will eventually follow.