Does Ashley Barnes deserve an England call up?

On Thursday, England manager Gareth Southgate named his squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Kosovo. Tyrone Mings, James Maddison, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Mason Mount all earnt a first call-up to the senior side, however, one player that was missing from Southgate’s list was Burnley’s in-form striker Ashley Barnes.

Since the turn of the year,  Burnley’s frontman has been in sensational form in the league. The striker has netted an impressive 13 times in 2019 with only two players, Sergio Aguero and Sadio Mane, scoring more than him. Barnes’ goalscoring record has led to many wondering whether the forward deserves a call up into the national side.

Barnes’ international eligibility for England has been the centre of confusion, with many suggesting online that Barnes is actually only able to represent Austria and therefore unable to wear the three lions shirt. However, Burnley’s number 10 had his application for Austrian citizenship rejected in February 2019, therefore removing any possibility that the striker could play for the Austrian side. Barnes was born in Bath to two English parents and stated himself back in 2015 that he would be able to represent England if he was to receive a call-up.

In comparison to the other forwards in Southgate’s England squad, Barnes’ record speaks for itself. This season, only Sterling has managed to outscore the Clarets forward. Barnes has made an electric start to the season, scoring four goals in his opening three games. Eyebrows were raised over Southgate’s decision to include Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard who has struggled to find his feet this season with many pointing out that Barnes could have been a better option in the squad. The Daily Mail reports that Charlie Austin believes Barnes’ omission is evidence that England aren’t picking players based on form. If Southgate’s team was picked purely on form, Barnes would almost certainly have to be included.

Southgate’s decision to leave out Burnley’s frontman could be due to him typically favouring youth when deciding on his squad.  The manager’s tactical setup does not play directly into Barnes’ strengths, which may have led to Southgate looking elsewhere in order to satisfy the needs of the team. England generally adopt a fast-paced attacking style of play which enables creativity throughout the side. While Barnes isn’t known for his pace and his creativity, being an ‘old fashioned striker,’  this could be an explanation for his admission from Southgate’s squad.

However, If Barnes continues this red-hot form, Southgate may be forced into including the forward because after all, goals win you games.