Gareth Southgate has frequently stated his preference to pick England squads based on the form rather than reputation.
So, ahead of matches against the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland, how should Southgate objectively measure a player’s form?
One way is through quantitative analysis of the kind we at Carteret Analytics provide to leading football clubs around the world, including Premier League and Championship teams.
The methods have been developed from quantitative analysis in investment banking to provide an objective measure of a player’s contribution to his team winning matches.
It removes all subjective ‘noise’ about how good a player is and allows a club, or an international team manager in this case, to objectively compare one player against another.
Every player receives a Carteret Rating, which is updated after every match that he has played.
The team at Carteret Analytics has assessed the performances of every eligible England player so far this season to determine who deserves to be in a 30-man England squad for the forthcoming international matches.
It has produced some interesting results.
Despite some criticism, and being dropped by Everton, Jordan Pickford has objectively performed the best of any England goalkeeper this season.
The next best are Alex McCarthy at Southampton, and Karl Darlow at Newcastle.
There would be no place, based on current form, for Burnley’s Nick Pope.
Southgate played three at the back against Denmark and Belgium last month.
If he continues to do so, then the three defenders with the best overall Carteret Ratings so far this season are Michael Keane, Tyrone Mings and Harry Maguire.
But this does not allow for a scenario where – as in Keane’s case – a player performed better in the early part of the season.
That is why we can also provide an objective measure of recent form, to predict performance levels in the next one to six matches.
On this basis, the three defenders who should make the starting line-up are Harry Maguire, Joe Gomez and Kyle Walker.
Uncapped Aston Villa centre-back Ezri Konsa should also be in the England squad, while analysis suggests Aaron Cresswell deserves a recall.
We don’t know how Southgate intends to set up the midfield.
But if we assume that he plays four in midfield with a further three players in advanced roles – so a 3-4-2-1 or 3-4-3 – then the four midfielders on best objective form are James Ward-Prowse, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount and, interestingly, uncapped Leeds youngster Jack Harrison.
In an advanced role, the objective form analysis indicates that Southgate should pick Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford.
That is in preference to Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho, both of whom have a slightly lower form level.
Captain Harry Kane should take the most advanced role.
The form analysis actually indicates that Callum Wilson is in the best form of any English centre-forward at present.
But it is very close to Kane’s form and we consider it is more likely that Southgate will pick Kane in the starting line-up.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s form is starting to dip. And, based on objective form alone, the analysis indicates that both Callum Wilson and Ollie Watkins rank above Calvert-Lewin ahead of this international period.
Leeds striker Patrick Bamford should also be in the 30-man England squad.
How the England squad should look
The table below lists the 30 best performing English players so far this season based on their Carteret Rating.
It also provides a crucial Form Indicator to illustrate each player’s predicted performance levels over the next one to six matches.
The report assumes that Southgate picks a 30-man squad with the same split between positions as last time. It can be read in full here.
James Powell is chief executive of the Carteret Group.