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Fulham’s Tosin: A wildcard pick for England?

Fulham centre-back Tosin Adarabioyo is in the midst of some of his best form and arguably one of the main factors behind the team’s recent improvement.

His performances in the surprise wins over Manchester United and Brighton were hugely influential, and he is continuing what should be seen as a strong turnaround in his status at Craven Cottage, having appeared to be leaving for Monaco last summer.

Tosin was an England youth international at U16, U17, U18 and U19 levels and once one of Manchester City’s brightest prospects, talked up by Pep Guardiola. At Fulham, he has been integral to two promotion seasons and their survival in the Premier League so far under Marco Silva.

Yet the 26-year-old has never had a senior call-up for England and is not normally in the conversation for Gareth Southgate’s squads.

As we approach the European Championships this summer, there is a debate to be had over who should be selected among the England centre-backs, given John Stones is arguably the only shoo-in.

The jury still is out on Harry Maguire due to his stuttering club form, although Southgate likes to stick with players whom he has relied on so much in the past. Even if Maguire goes, there are still as many as two places up for grabs, and Southgate has selected five other centre-backs over the past 12 months, suggesting who is under consideration.

Marc Guehi and Levi Colwill – stars for the U21s in recent years – appear to be the next in line, while Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings and Lewis Dunk have also been tried. Guehi will miss the upcoming international break with injury but is expected to be in contention for the Euros, while Colwill has established himself as first choice left centre-back for Chelsea this season.

Mings has been out with a long-term injury since the opening day of the season and will not be in the running, while Konsa has been playing at right-back for Aston Villa. So who else is there for Southgate to consider? What if England suffer a long-term injury or two? Should the likes of Tosin at least be in the conversation?

Perhaps he should, given he is currently outperforming all of the above across several important statistical metrics in the Premier League – even Man City’s Stones in some aspects.

Tosin has won more defensive duels (67.37%), interceptions per 90 minutes (1.5) and clearances per 90 minutes (4.99) than all of them, and he also has more headed clearances per 90 minutes (3.33) than any other centre-back in the Premier League to have played more than four games.

There are a couple of obvious skews in the data; the further down the league your team is, the more likely you are to be doing more defending in games, and Fulham have been competing in the bottom half all season. That will be among the reasons why Everton’s centre-back pair James Tarkowski (1.79) and Jarrad Branthwaite (1.64) score more highly than any of England’s centre-backs on interceptions per 90, while Branthwaite also edges Tosin on duel success by just 0.14 per cent.

There is also the fact that Tosin spent the first half of the season out injured with a groin problem and has made 14 Premier League appearances since, which condenses and spikes his data, while the likes of Guehi, Colwill, Dunk, Konsa and the two Everton lads have played more than 20 games.

But if you are using data to help select players then these are the main ingredients for a centre-back. As well as the England internationals, Tosin is outperforming Tarkowski (4.54) and Branthwaite (4.16) on clearances per 90 too. And apart from Stones, Tosin has also conceded the fewest fouls out of the England pool too – just six.

Fulham manager Marco Silva has been singing his praises recently and mentioned the national team ahead of the weekend’s defeat at Wolves: “In December, when it was really busy, he helped the team to reach a really good level. He is a really important player for us inside the football club.

Tosin's stats

“He is growing. He is a really good player and of course we always expect better things from him, and if he is going to be the case to go for the national team (then) even better, because it’s always the ambition of a football player.”

There is no doubt Tosin should be in the next group of players to be considered for a call-up if he continues in this vein and, at 26, he still has plenty of time to represent his country.

And what about the likes of Max Kilman, also performing well at Wolves? He tops the clearance charts with 128 followed by Tarkowski on 127. His Everton team-mate Branthwaite is clearly another up-and-coming talent but he is only 21 and currently playing regularly for England’s U21s.

And what of the English players playing in Europe? Fikayo Tomori at AC Milan and Eric Dier at Bayern Munich? Tomori has just returned from injury that kept him out for a couple of months but he has impressed in Italy and played in the Champions League. Dier is a very similar a player to Maguire and you might say he is part of England’s past rather than their future.

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