Mon 18 Mar 2024, 20:24 · Mark Davis

Where would Newcastle United rank if Premier League sides could only field English players?

Where would Newcastle United rank if Premier League sides could only field English players?
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When it comes to football, there’s no doubt that the acquisition of the finest overseas players is one of the major reasons that the Premier League is the most-watched sporting league competition in the world.

There are some ‘English-isms’—that for better or worse—have died along the way, though.

None of this ‘inverted wingers’ nonsense, but things like wide men whipping it into the ‘big man’, a rough 50-50 tackle to let your opponent ‘know you’re there’, and, of course, the classic Mike Bassett penchant of’“four-four-f***ing-two’.

These are all relics from a distant era… unless you’re Sean Dyche, who selected a starting XI made up of squad numbers 1–11 as recently as 2021. It was both alarming and hilarious how much that feat was celebrated by some of us English folk.


In light of Gareth Southgate’s recent England squad announcement with the 2024 European Championships on the horizon—and the 25th anniversary of the last fully English Premier League starting XI (John Gregory’s Aston Villa vs. Coventry City in February 1999)—I’ve tried my hand at predicting how the league table would look if each side could only play their Englishmen.

A quick caveat is that I’ve had to be lenient with loan deals. Premier League clubs can use players they’ve sent out or loaned in, but if you’ve opted to play for a different country, you don’t qualify! (Apologies to Poland’s Matty Cash and Villa, his club).

So who is in the relegation zone? Who takes the title? And how did our own Newcastle United fare? Read on to find out!

20th - Fulham

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I might have thought twice about compiling this list if I’d seen the state of Fulham’s English options before I started!

Marco Silva’s first-team squad is about as English as a pharaoh eating paella while skiing at a rodeo. Only Tisin Adarabioyo and Harrison Reed feature in the senior squad these days and Reed has been more of a peripheral figure this season.

There are a few bright lights out on loan, namely Jay Stansfield, and youngsters Joshua King (not that one) and Harvey Araujo look promising. Let’s face it, though, this rag-tag bunch are well out of their depth as a Premier League XI. It’s last place for the Cottagers.

19th - Wolves

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I’m not sure what’s worse here; the 11 players I’ve managed to cobble together or the monstrosity of a formation I’ve had to put them in. I mean just look at the shape! It looks like something Garth Crooks pulls out his backside in his Team of the Week ‘article’ for the BBC.

Sure Wolves have been mockingly referred to as ‘Portugal FC’ under the sleazy presidency of super-agent Jorge Mendes, but I was still expecting to find more English talent at Molineux than this.

It isn’t too bad at central defence, but sadly goals win matches, and Wolves have a front three of literal kids tasked with keeping them in the ‘All-English Premier League’.

I don’t see it going well, they’re in 19th and set for a return to The Championship.


18th - Burnley

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Like Wolves, Burnley’s formation is a trainwreck, but unfortunately, a workman is only as good as his tools, and the Clarets seem allergic to defensive-minded Englishmen.

Normally, promoted clubs fare well in topics like this; with less money to spend, they have to nurture English talent organically. With Vincent Kompany at the helm and parachute payments available, however, that isn’t the case here. And, just like in the actual Premier League this season, Burnley are very disappointing.

Just five senior first-teamers feature in this XI, with only Trafford and Brownhill getting regular Premier League minutes. They round off our relegation spots with an 18th-place finish.

17th - Nottingham Forest

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Double-barrel boys Morgan Gibbs-White and Callum Hudson-Odoi are doing A LOT of heavy lifting here.

You’d think the fact that Forest have signed about 971 players in the last two years would mean they’d have a deluge of talent to choose from for this XI. This sadly wasn’t the case, and I had to scrounge around their loanees just to fill gaps.

Even then, there was a lack of star power at both ends of the pitch; meaning key man Gibbs-White pushes up into the striker role, and academy keeper Aaron Bott (great name) takes the place between the sticks.

It won’t be pretty, but I think they’d just about stay up.


16th - Sheffield United

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This inclusion proves that it’s better to have a more rounded team than a smattering of star quality; as Sheffield United don’t have any players on the level of Gibbs-White in 17th.

There are plenty of Englishmen in the Blades’ first-team squad. The question is, how many of these players are Premier League-quality? Luckily for the Yorkshire club, experience (just about) gets them over the line to survival in this league. Although it’s debatable how much of that experience is positive, useful experience…

15th - Brentford

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There’s no room for nepotism here, so I’m sorry to say that Instagram star Romeo Beckham doesn’t make the cut.

But he wasn’t far off, which tells a story in itself. Premier League regulars Ivan Toney, Rico Henry, Ben Mee and Keane Lewis-Porter make a promising spine, but I was left scavenging through the academy and lower league loanees to patch up the holes on the right flank.

This XI might well upset the applecart in years to come but as of now, Brentford are definitely going to struggle.

14th - Tottenham Hotspur

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Sadly for Spurs, this list came one season too late for a certain Harry Kane; who would have more than compensated for some of the dross in this XI.

The fact that Oliver Skipp was a shoo-in from the beginning tells you what I was working with here. Eric Dier may be leaving, but he’s still technically on loan from Spurs, and trust me, they need him.

Similar to Brentford before them, youngsters like Dane Scarlett and Ashley Phillips might propel Spurs up a few places but for now, they’ll have to make do with 14th.

13th - Crystal Palace

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Am I allowed two goalkeepers? Crystal Palace are well and truly stocked in that department, unlike many of the XIs in this list. Sam Johnstone is easily the best English goalkeeper to miss out on a starting berth in this article, and would probably have featured in 80% of the other squads.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, the talent dries up the further you look up the pitch… save for one Eberechi Eze of course, who is carrying the team in terms of creativity; much like in real-life at times to be honest.

Youngsters Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and David Ozoh are ones to watch for the future though.

12th - Brighton

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The finesse and flair that has made Brighton such a joy to watch in recent years is sadly lacking when the Seagulls are stripped back to their bare English bones. However, they have a solid foundation with Jason Steele in goal, and Adam Webster and Lewis Dunk partnering up in central defence.

Solly March and Danny Welbeck will be tasked with grabbing the goals, and there’s a healthy balance of youth and experience elsewhere, with up-and-coming starlet Jack Hinshelwood alongside Adam Lallana in midfield.

They may well struggle on the flanks though, and I even had to throw in 38-year-old James Milner at left-back through lack of a better option. He can play anywhere and has pretty much played everywhere in his career, in fairness.

11th - Liverpool

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Picking Liverpool’s XI has become a lot easier (and helped them climb a few places) thanks to the recent emergence of academy talent like Bobby Clark, Jayden Danns and Kaide Gordon.

With the exception of Trent though—who we know isn’t really rated by Southgate—there aren’t many English superstars in the Liverpool team right now. But there are a number of exciting gems that could amass many England caps between them in years to come.

The future looks bright for the Anfield club, unfortunately, but what’s new there?


10th - Luton Town

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Into the top half of the table and we have plucky Luton Town, who boast decent firepower up top (Carlton Morris and Elijah Adebayo have 17 goals between them this season so far).

Add in some great crossers of the ball like Alfie Doughty, ex-Newcastle man Andros Townsend and Ryan Giles, and this Hatters England XI could do some real damage.

They even have the resurgent Ross Barkley running the midfield, so it’s easy to see them featuring as the ‘dark horses’ of this league.

9th - Bournemouth

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Easily Gareth Southgate’s (and Alan Pardew’s) favourite XI in this list due to the ridiculous amount of full-backs crammed in, Bournemouth’s England offering has a healthy mix of youth and experience - with all but one player in the XI boasting Premier League minutes on his CV.

Dominic Solanke is the undoubted jewel in the crown, and this Cherries team would likely employ a fast, direct style of play; with wingers Jaidon Anthony and Marcus Tavernier putting in plenty of crosses for the big man.

8th - Aston Villa

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Just missing out on the European places, it’s Unai Emery’s Aston Villa. As mentioned in the intro, Matty Cash’s recent allegiance to Poland rules him out of contention. But with a backline of Kortney Hause, Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa and Callum Chambers, Villa can call upon one of the most experienced defences in this list. They have over 500 Premier League appearances between them.

The same can’t be said for the midfield, however; where 22-year-old Jacob Ramsey looks like a seasoned veteran when compared with Tim Iroegbunam and Omari Kellyman.

If Villa exercise their buyback clause on Jayden Philogene (currently tearing up the Championship with Hull) he’d walk into this team, too.

Ollie Watkins up top is a major draw though, with Ramsey and ex-Middlesbrough hotshot Morgan Rogers hopefully able to provide him with the supply he needs.

MK Dons loanee Filip Marschall is between the posts, and the other relative unknown is ex-Barcelona prospect Louie Barry; currently on loan at League Two high-fliers Stockport County with an impressive goal record of nine goals in 16 league games.

7th - West Ham United

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Glittering with eye-catching talent like James Ward-Prowse, the goalscoring exploits of Danny Ings, and the star power of Jarrod Bowen, this Hammers England XI could cause defences all kinds of problems.

Unfortunately, they’ll also find problems in their own backline with the centre-half pairing and goalkeeping options making this West Ham team resemble a beautifully decorated cake that’s about to collapse in on itself. A case of ‘they’ll score four, but we’ll get five’, maybe?

6th - Everton

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Some very easy decisions (Jordan Pickford, Jarrad Branthwaite, James Garner) were offset by some very tricky ones in this XI. Everton have plenty of Englishmen in their first-team squad (which is no surprise under the tutelage of Sean Dyche).

All the quality seemed to be in the same areas, though, namely out on the wings and at centre-back. As a result, promising young winger Lewis Dobbin is shoehorned in as a sort of second-striker behind DCL; Ben Godfrey pushes up to play as a ball-winning central midfielder, and Mason Holgate inexplicably makes his second entry in this list due to there being no other fitting deputy for Ben Godfrey at right-back.

It also means Michael Keane and Dele Alli don’t feature at all; a sad indictment of the way both players’ careers have fallen off a cliff in recent years.( Keane has always been a bit rubbish though, hasn’t he?)

But all in all, four centre-backs featuring in a good old-fashioned 4-4-2 with crosses going in for the big man? Dychey would be delighted with this and if any manager is capable of leading a side like this into Europe, it’s him.

5th - Manchester City

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Here’s another inclusion where youth clashes with experience. It’s somewhat amusing seeing Phil Foden feature here alongside the 38-year-old Scott Carson!

The Citizens were never going to exactly struggle in this list; Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, John Stones and Kyle Walker are just too good. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of youngsters unproven at Premier League level means even Pep Guardiola might struggle to get Champions League with this team.

I do wonder how many assists Phil and Jack could get for Liam Delap, but who knows? It could be a breakthrough campaign for the son of Rory!

4th - Manchester United

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As is tradition with Manchester United, there is plenty of controversy within this Red Devils XI. Firstly, there is no Mason Greenwood (frankly, I wasn’t willing to open that can of worms). Jadon Sancho does feature, though… and in star player Marcus Rashford’s favoured position. And the fact we’ve had to repurpose Luke Shaw at left-centre-back due to a lack of other centre-back options means Man Utd’s two best senior Englishmen are playing out of position.

But it was either that or play turncoat Shola Shoretire (was he named after Ameobi?)? At least I’ve seen the likes of Brandon Williams and Omari Forson in action…

3rd - Arsenal

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Boasting some world-class talent in attack and midfield, Arsenal can rely on major England stars Bukayo Saka and Declan Rice in their XI. Aaron Ramsdale is also one of the best goalkeepers in this list; even if he’s fallen out of Gareth Southgate and Mikel Arteta’s good books as of late.

It all seems to fall apart in defence though, where solid starter Ben White is joined by youngsters Brooke Norton-Cuffy (currently on loan at Millwall with over 80 Football League appearances under his belt) and Ruell Walters (who’s yet to make a professional league appearance but has been capped by England at U17 and U18 level).

It may be a case of Saka and Eddie Nketiah outscoring the opposition every game. Expect plenty of 4-3 thrillers.

2nd - Chelsea

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The Chelsea paradox. There’s talent nearly everywhere you look, yet it still seems like it will fall apart at any moment.

Raheem Sterling. Reece James. Ben Chilwell. Conor Gallagher. Cole Palmer. This team means business. But just like the real Chelsea, a lack of a proper number nine means I can’t give the ‘Blue Billion-Pound Bottlejobs’ top spot.

Young Mason Burstow already looks a bit out of his depth at a Sunderland side in free-fall and I don’t see him faring much better here.

And has Marcus Bettinelli ever played for Chelsea? I can’t say I remember it if he has; despite the Blues’ well-documented issues between the sticks.


1st - Newcastle United

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There was a reason I wanted to write this article in the first place, wasn’t there? You got me!

Although perhaps lacking that extra sprinkling of national team star quality, Newcastle’s England XI is easily the most balanced in this list; with no clear weak links.

Young Lewis Miley is the most inexperienced Premier League player in the side but still boasts 18 appearances to his name and counting. Plus, you could even swap him out for Elliott Anderson, who’s yet to receive a senior competitive cap for Scotland.

This XI is arguably stronger than some of the sides Eddie Howe has had to put out on the pitch this season, and sticking to true Howe form, Lewis Hall STILL can’t find a place in the side. Poor Lewis. Jacob Murphy is another one who would easily feature elsewhere in other XIs on this list but has to accept a role on the bench.

Am I a little biased in putting this group on top? Possibly. There are bigger individual names elsewhere like Saka, Foden, Walker, and Maddison, but over a 38-game season, you need consistency from Premier League-proven quality in every area, and that’s what this Newcastle side brings with some in reserve as well.

*In this fantasy world I’ve created, I’m just choosing to pretend that Callum Wilson wouldn’t get injured in Gameweek 3 to shatter our title hopes almost immediately.

What do you make of this list? Are there any glaring omissions? Am I biased in putting Newcastle on top? Let me know your thoughts!