England manager Gareth Southgate has played down any suggestion of Celtic’s Scott Sinclair earning an international call-up any time soon, despite the winger’s outstanding form for the Hoops.
The former Manchester City and Chelsea midfielder was the sensational talent for the Bhoys last season and is the second highest-scoring Englishman playing at the top club level after netting his 10th goal of the season so far in Celtic’s 3-0 Champions League win at Anderlecht on Tuesday.
Even with all his accomplishments in the past year, Southgate remains unimpressed, stating the team already have “good quantity in that area of the pitch” and that Sinclair is “just below the level” of what they have already got.
Is Southgate wrong not to consider Sinclair for the national team? Is Sinclair really a level below what is required to play at international level for The Three Lions?
Compared to other talent in the English national team, he is doing better than most. Sinclair is only one goal under Harry Kane, who has scored 11 goals for Tottenham Hotspur, and has scored double of the amount of goals from Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, who have each scored five goals for Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester United respectfully.
Not to mention that Sinclair has netted an impressive total of 35 goals in 65 matches since arriving at Celtic from Aston Villa in the summer of 2016.
In his first month for the Hoops alone he hit six goals – which equalled his total for the whole of his last season with an Aston Villa side relegated for the first time in 30 years.
And no one can repress his role in helping Celtic accomplish their achievements – winning their first Champions League away game in five years, scoring the third and final goal against Anderlecht; extending Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run to 58 games; beating Rangers 5-1, scoring the third goal and making it the biggest win at Ibrox since 1897; cementing their status at ‘The Invincibles’; going an entire Premier League season without tasting defeat; sealing the Treble for the fourth time in club history, and being well on their way to being the first ever Scottish team to win back to back Trebles…
The list is endless, and much of it would not have been accomplished without Sinclair.
The 28-year-old managed to etch his name into the green and white folklore forever in his early days at Celtic, when he found the back of the net for the sixth game in succession. Usurping Celtic record goalscorer Jimmy McGrory’s long-standing 95-year-old record of scoring in each of his first five games for the club.
Last season he had a rate of goal every 1.67 games, and his hat-trick at Tynecastle in a comprehensive 5-0 demolition of Hearts back in April secured a sixth successive league title for the Bhoys and a 48th in total.
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Perhaps one of the most incredible things about Sinclair is his ability to play anywhere across the front line, which means he can dovetail well with Moussa Dembele, Leigh Griffiths and Patrick Roberts alike.
His influence on the team was deservedly recognised as he was awarded the Players Player and Football Writers’ Player of the Year at the end of his first season in Glasgow.
At 28 years old – the age most commonly thought of as being a player’s peak – Sinclair is so much more than a normal touchline winger.
He contributes goals as well as assists and creates chances, and his presence alone can strike fear in the hearts of the opposition. Well, in the Scottish Premiership at least anyway.
Sinclair, who was named Scottish Professional Footballers’ Player of the Year in his debut season north of the border, has already been capped by the Great Britain Olympic football team.
If his form continues at this level, Celtic might struggle to keep a hold of him next season. If he’s scoring against the bigger clubs and in the Champions League then people are undoubtedly going to take note of him.
So, Southgate, let’s hear again how Sinclair is a “level below” of what is required to play at an international level. What else does he need to do? And, more than that, who’s that much better than him in the England set-up?