Matt Targett believes the door is still open on an England call-up ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
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While the idea of Newcastle signing a defender cast aside by Aston Villa on deadline day in January was not exactly inspiring, Targett has excelled in black and white.
Indeed, his introduction into the team helped Eddie Howe’s side on their way to a record-breaking run of form to pull away from the relegation zone and push towards the Premier League’s top half during the second-half of the campaign, earning a £15m permanent move to St James’ Park in the process.
Though Dan Burn offers competition, Targett would surely be considered Newcastle’s starting orthodox left-back. Aside from missing the Villa game last season due to the terms of the loan agreement, the 26-year-old has started every game for which he has been available.
With Howe’s team one of the Premier League’s form outfits, Targett impressing and England not exactly being blessed with left-back options, the former Southampton man has not given up hope on a late inclusion, much like teammate Callum Wilson.
Targett formed part of the England side who won the Toulon Tournament in 2016 under Gareth Southgate’s watch and is also eligible for Scotland. The defender has 13 caps the England U21s, the last of which came against Norway almost exactly six years ago, and played for Scotland U19s.
What has Targett said about international recognition?
Speaking to The Chronicle, Targett said: “I don’t want to close the door on either really. I am open.
“My first choice would be England and that’s something I am looking forward to, it’s something I believe I can reach, that level. At the moment that is the target.”
Could Targett play for England?
Some supporters might point to the fact Southgate has not often turned to Newcastle players, with Jonjo Shelvey and Jamaal Lascelles perhaps deserving of a cap in 2018. Indeed, Kieran Trippier is the only United player to have been involved in England camps since Jack Colback’s brief call-up during the Roy Hodgson era in 2014.
Still, Targett compares rather favourably to some of the other options at left-back.
With Luke Shaw struggling for form and Ben Chilwell only just returning from a long-term injury, perhaps there’s a way in. As per WhoScored data, the Newcastle star is averaging 1.5 key passes per game this season, higher than Chilwell and equal to Shaw, while he also produces more tackles (2.3 to 0.6 and 1.5 respectively) than both over the same period.
Granted, Chilwell’s lay-off might have skewed the averages somewhat, although there’s certainly enough reason to think Targett is capable of competing.
History, however, tells us that perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath.