Fri. Jun 18th, 2021

The Toffees man, one of four uncapped players called upon by Gareth Southgate, says that it is a ‘dream’ to be brought into the international fold

Ben Godfrey says that his maiden England call-up was “a surreal moment”, after the Everton centre-back was included in the Three Lions’ provisional squad ahead of Euro 2020.

The Toffees man, arguably the surprise pick of Gareth Southgate’s selection, is one of four uncapped players included a week out from the deadline to register a 26-man group for the tournament.

The ex-Norwich defender, who swapped Carrow Road for Goodison Park last summer, has enjoyed a promising debut campaign on Merseyside, and acknowledged that it has been a “dream” to be selected, even as he faces stiff competition to make the final cut.

What has been said?

“Gareth Southgate called me to tell me I was in the provisional squad and that he was looking forward to me joining up with the team,” Godfrey told Everton’s club website.

“It was a surreal moment and I was straight on the phone to my mum and dad to share the news.

“It means so much to me and my family. Playing for England is something you dream about from a very young age and to be part of the squad means a lot.

“When you look at the quality of defenders we’ve got, and the players who didn’t make the squad, I know it is an achievement to have made the provisional squad, and now I just want to work hard and see what comes.”

Godfrey leftfield pick in conservative selection

The 23-year-old’s inclusion, alongside fellow first-time call-ups Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale, along with the uncapped Sam Johnstone, reflects a manager keen to consider his options in areas where he may be shorn of first-choice candidates.

While there has been no room for Leeds United’s Patrick Bamford or Southampton’s Danny Ings owing to both a glut of fit forwards and a desire to keep continuity, Godfrey has found himself included amid fears over Harry Maguire’s fitness this summer.

The Manchester United skipper is expected to sit out the Red Devils’ Europa League final against Villarreal with ligament damage, and faces a race against time to be fit for England’s opening game against Croatia on June 13.

Yet Godfrey’s inclusion over more experienced options such as Tottenham’s Eric Dier and Everton team-mate Michael Keane, suggests how highly Southgate considers his standing, which could bode well for an extended international future.

“The manager [Southgate] spoke about my versatility and I think being able to play across the backline for Everton during the season helped show that,” the defender added.

“[But] I’m just looking forward to being part of the squad and showing what I can do. I’m told there’s a good bunch of lads in the squad so I’m sure I’ll be made to feel welcome.

“My phone has been buzzing non-stop since the announcement of my call-up. I know the manager is going to announce his final squad of 26 next week but that decision is not up to me.

“My focus now is to do what I always do – stay focused and work hard – and we’ll see what happens.”

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