And Waugh believes that he has the talent to change that stat.
Commenting on an interview he conducted with the 24-year-old for The Athletic, he said: “He has all the attributes to excel for both club and country if he can keep his current form over the long run.”
This is a big claim from Waugh, but it’s hard to argue with him. Ordinarily, when a player hasn’t been capped by the age of 24, it means that the international ship has sailed for them. In his case, however, he has been resplendent since he was thrown into Rafa Benitez’s plans out of necessity last season, and ever since then he has looked every inch the Premier League midfielder. Last year he averaged 2.9 tackles, 1.6 interceptions, 0.9 key passes, and a pass completion rate just shy of 80% per game, as per Whoscored. He is, in short, a well-rounded and complete defensive midfielder, capable of breaking up play and getting things moving in the other direction. Players like that are in short supply, and while there is no saying that he would walk straight into Gareth Southgate’s main plans, he could do a decent job as a covering option.