Jadon Sancho has been left out of the latest England squad for the upcoming internationals against Italy and Germany, but it could potentially be a blessing in disguise for both Sancho and the Three Lions only a few months out from the World Cup.
Sancho has played only once for England since Euro 2020, a two-goal outing against Andorra in October 2021. He hasn’t been in a squad since that international break.
Even if not always a regular starter, Sancho had become a regular part of Gareth Southgate’s England setup during his time with Borussia Dortmund – although slightly more out of sight in Germany, his incredible Bundesliga numbers were impossible to ignore.
The main reason for the 22-year-old’s lengthy international absence was his dip in form upon moving back to England with Manchester United. Sancho arrived with much fanfare as one of the most expensive British players of all time at £73m, but it was a tough ask to replicate his Dortmund form at a club that was pretty much in disarray for most of the 2021/22 season.
Sancho bizarrely struggled to even command a starting place at United this time last year. When he did start it was tough to make an impact in a team with rock bottom confidence – a handful of games showed flashes of his best, such as against Chelsea, Leeds and Tottenham. The former Manchester City academy player then had his season ended prematurely by illness.
But just like with United as a whole, the arrival of Erik ten Hag has marked a fresh start for Sancho. Last season has become a write-off consigned to the scrap heap and he now looks a completely different player, already just one shy of matching last term’s Premier League goal tally.
There was surprise that Sancho wasn’t recalled by Southgate this month, especially with Jarrod Bowen retained without a Premier League goal involvement so far this season, and Jack Grealish also included despite hardly featuring for Manchester City.
There is no more international football before Southgate has to name a provisional World Cup squad, which doesn’t give Sancho a chance to directly impress. But the fact he has previously been a regular call-up and is therefore well known to the management wouldn’t make it a surprise if he was suddenly drafted back in for the finals…or at least yet to be announced warm-up friendlies.
Omission at this stage gives Sancho the added fire to fight even harder for his place. He has already tasted one senior tournament and won’t want to wait until 2026 for a potential World Cup debut, especially now when England are also expected to do well in Qatar.
It is absolutely still Sancho’s intention to force his way back into the England picture before the World Cup squad is chosen. He is well aware that performing at club level is the way to do that and is once more starting to show with Manchester United that he would be an asset this winter.
If he is motivated even more to do well for his club to make that happen, resting during the September international break in the mean time, and England get a fresh player hot in form come November…everybody wins.