Gareth Southgate has heaped praise on Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, admitting he is giving Jordan Pickford a run for his money as England's starter.
Since moving to the Emirates this summer in a £30m deal that was widely criticised, Ramsdale has been in sensational form, with his introduction to the team coinciding with a seven-game unbeaten streak which has also produced four clean sheets.
It was the most recent of those shutouts, the 2-0 win over Leicester City, in which Ramsdale really caught the eye. He pulled out excellent save after excellent save, prompting calls for Southgate to make him England's number one.
"Firstly, it's great for him," Southgate admitted (via football.london) after naming Ramsdale in his latest squad. "This is the third squad he's been in, he had the summer with us.
"We were impressed with what he did in the summer and he started very well with Arsenal, that's at this stage of the season still quite a small sample of games but we're really pleased with what he's doing and the way he's playing and his distribution with his feet is a particular bonus of the way that they play at Arsenal and the skill set that he's got.
"So I think there's a there's a fight on. We've got competition for places and we need competition places in every position. Aaron and Sam [Johnstone] are definitely providing that to Jordan."
Ramsdale is yet to make his debut for England but can expect some minutes during the upcoming break, in which the Three Lions will face Albania and San Marino in World Cup qualifiers.
He will have likely forced his way up the pecking order ahead of Sam Johnstone, who has been doing well for Championship high-flyers West Bromwich Albion this season, and a start in the San Marino game is not out of the question.
Southgate also namedropped centre-back Ben White as one of several players on the cusp of the squad, praising the youngster for settling well at Arsenal.
"Fikyo [Tomori] was with us last time and we've brought Harry Maguire back and gone with the four centre-backs who did so well for us during the summer," he explained.
"Ben White is starting to settle well now at Arsenal. Fikayo at Milan. [Marc] Guehi. Joe [Gomez], we know, we love, he's obviously had a little bit of an injury set-back, but I'm sure he's going to get back playing, and we know he can play at the level, and he's obviously someone we've worked with very closely, and who we love.
"They're all pushing. I think there's still a step for a lot of them in the consistency, and a lot of those boys are young defenders, they're learning their trade, so they're not going to be perfect. But throughout the team, we're not perfect at the moment anyway.
"We've got to keep improving. And there is, 12 months away, if we qualify, 12 months where there's going to be real competition for places. And we've seen over the last 12 months how rapidly some young players can come through."
Source : 90min