The Premier League’s relegation battle looks set to go down to the wire, with the bottom six sides all in contention to drop down a division as the campaign reaches its conclusion.
Relegation can have a devastating impact on clubs financially, while the drop into the Championship makes it almost impossible to retain top talent. Several sides down the bottom boast England internationals in their ranks and relegation would almost certainly lead to exits with Euro 2024 approaching next summer.
Here are five England players who could still be relegated this season.
- Jordan Pickford
England’s number one has been rather busier than he would have liked across the past two campaigns, with Everton having battled against a first top-flight relegation since 1951.
Pickford has often been a positive in an otherwise difficult period for Everton, who are 19th in the Premier League table and a point from safety. The 29-year-old made a crucial save from James Maddison’s penalty as Everton drew 2-2 with relegation rivals Leicester on Monday evening, a stop which could prove pivotal to the Toffees’ hopes of staying in the division.
Gareth Southgate has retained his faith in Pickford as the Three Lions’ first choice, despite the challenge of Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale and Newcastle’s Nick Pope, and the goalkeeper has rarely let the national side down across his 52 caps for England.
Pickford would struggle to remain undisputed number one in the Championship however, while he represents one of Everton’s most saleable assets. Relegation could have disastrous consequences on the Toffees, who are in the process of building a new stadium and have been referred by the Premier League to an independent commission for alleged breaches of the league’s profit and sustainability rules.
Tottenham – in search of a replacement for Hugo Lloris – and Manchester United have been linked.
2. Declan Rice
West Ham have a four-point cushion to the Premier League’s relegation places, but a tough run-in that will see the Hammers face Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – in addition to a Europa Conference League semi-final with AZ Alkmaar – means David Moyes’ side are not clear of danger.
Declan Rice’s future remains uncertain regardless of whether the Hammers retain top-flight status. The midfielder has turned down proposals of a new contract amid a desire to compete in the Champions League and is keen to test himself on the biggest stage after success with England.
The 24-year-old is one of the first names on the team sheet for Gareth Southgate at international level and has evolved into one of the most complete midfielders in the Premier League at West Ham. An elite ball-winner at the base of the midfield, Rice’s game has improved with his ability to carry the ball confidently in possession up the pitch.
Full of box-to-box drive and dynamism, he is understood to be at the top of Arsenal’s summer wish-list as Mikel Arteta looks for presence in his engine room. The Gunners are unlikely to be alone in their pursuit of Rice however, who Moyes has insisted carries a British transfer record price-tag.
3. James Maddison
Leicester are fighting to preserve their Premier League status this season with only goal difference keeping the Foxes outside of the bottom three.
Dean Smith has arrived as interim manager in a bid to stop the club’s slide towards trouble, one which could see Leicester become one of the most talented squads in Premier League history to be relegated.
James Maddison has been the leading light in an otherwise sorry season for Leicester, with the midfielder having scored nine goals and laid on eight assists in 26 league appearances. Maddison’s influence saw him included in England’s World Cup squad in Qatar and while the 26-year-old failed to feature at the tournament, he made his full debut for the Three Lions during March’s international break.
Maddison will want to build on that ahead of next summer’s European Championship and has been public in his ambitions to become a regular with the national side. Newcastle saw an approach turned down for Maddison last summer and could renew their interest as the club strengthen ahead of an expected European campaign. A move from the Championship to the Champions League is not far-fetched for Maddison, if Leicester are unable to improve results.
4. James Ward-Prowse
Southampton face an uphill task to survive with the Saints six points from safety with just four games remaining.
Not since 2011/12 have Southampton competed in England’s second tier, but a turbulent season that has seen Ralph Hasenhuttl and Nathan Jones sacked has left the south coast side on the brink of the Championship.
James Ward-Prowse will not be short of suitors should Southampton drop down a division and the midfielder might feel this is the right time to move on as he looks to improve his England ambitions. Ward-Prowse has made the provisional list for each of the last two major tournaments, but was not selected for the final squad.
The 28-year-old – who is closing in on David Beckham’s free-kick record in the Premier League – has won 11 caps for England and has scored twice. Regarded as arguably the best set-piece taker in world football right now, he has the ability to thrive at a bigger side should the Saints go down.
5. Dominic Calvert-Lewin
When England reached the final of Euro 2020, Dominic Calvert-Lewin was established as the leading deputy to Harry Kane at centre-forward.
Calvert-Lewin scored 21 goals for Everton the previous season, but has endured a nightmare run with injuries since that tournament. He has scored just seven goals across the last two seasons as repeated fitness problems have plagued the forward, an absence with has contributed to Everton’s struggles in the Premier League.
His recent return has offered encouragement that Everton can escape the drop, with Calvert-Lewin scoring a crucial goal in Monday’s draw at Leicester. Tough tests await with clashes against Brighton and Manchester City next however, as time runs out for the Toffees to climb from the bottom three.
Calvert-Lewin could lead a fire sale at Goodison Park should Everton be relegated, with Arsenal, Newcastle and West Ham among those credited as admirers.