Southgate: Balogun must be patient for England call-up

By Sports Desk March 26, 2023

Gareth Southgate urged Folarin Balogun to be patient for an England call-up.

The 21-year-old striker has excelled on loan with Reims this season from Arsenal, scoring 17 Ligue 1 goals – only Kylian Mbappe and Jonathan David (both 19) having netted more.

Balogun's international allegiances are up for grabs, with the New York-born striker eligible for the United States, as well as Nigeria, and visiting the US during the international break.

Southgate is not prepared to issue him a call-up in order to seal his international future, however, citing his lack of Premier League experience as a reason for him being overlooked.

"It is up to the player to weigh up where his heart feels. Is he prepared to wait a little bit for an opportunity if he backs himself and feels he can push his way into our squad?" he said.

"Because anybody who has followed us will know that we will give young players a chance. So, we cannot go and give first-team call-ups to someone just because we don't want them to go somewhere else.

"We like Flo. He has obviously not had an opportunity in the Premier League yet, so we have to weigh up those goals to Ivan [Toney], for example, or Ollie Watkins. Or Eddie Nketiah, who has done really well with the opportunity he has had at Arsenal.

"I know there are going to be offers as 80 per cent of our players can play for more than one country now, and we are not arrogant expecting everybody to want to come to play for England. We have to make them feel wanted and feel part of that.

"Ultimately, it does not matter what you say. If you cannot give them the opportunity now, then some people are patient and want to see it through and are prepared to wait a bit and others want it now and I can totally understand that."

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