The Premier League’s ‘top six’ has an intruder.
After a bright start to the campaign, Bournemouth currently occupy sixth place.
The Cherries find themselves sandwiched between Arsenal and Man United — two teams with budgets, stadiums and fan bases that dwarf those of the south coast underdogs.
As one of the the most entertaining sides in the country so far this campaign, Bournemouth are certainly worthy of their position in the table.
In Ryan Fraser, Callum Wilson, Nathan Ake and Steve Cook they have players who many people are keen to label ‘underrated’.
David Brooks is another who has enhanced his reputation since moving to Dean Court (or the Vitality Stadium of you want to be official).
The 21-year-old has three league goals to his name already this season.
The former Sheffield United midfielder has been a constant thorn in the side of Bournemouth’s opponents, generally operating on the right.
Gareth Southgate will be lamenting Brooks’ decision to declare for Wales in 2017.
The Warrington-born midfielder represented England at Under-20 level, scoring twice in five appearances, before switching allegiances for Chris Coleman’s last squad as Wales boss.
Brooks has since been capped seven times for the Dragons, featuring regularly during the infancy of Ryan Giggs’ reign.
Missing out on promising talent is nothing new for England.
Wilfried Zaha featured in two friendlies for the Three Lions under Roy Hodgson but never played in a competitive fixture.
In 2017 he declared for Ivory Coast, his country of birth, categorically ending England’s chances of tying him down.
Last season, Zaha’s form was so impressive many thought he would have secured a place in Gareth Southgate’s 2018 World Cup squad had he been eligible.
Then there’s Ethan Ampadu.
Chelsea’s teenage starlet excelled for Wales against Republic of Ireland in September of this year.
His performance prompted many England fans to question whether enough had been done to convince the Exeter-born talent that his patience would be rewarded.
Ampadu made just one appearance for England Under-15s before relenting to Wales’ persuasion.
Incredibly, former Exeter City manager, Paul Tisdale, claims England turned their back on Ampadu because he took ‘too few touches’.
Many would say economic possession is a positive attribute for a centre-back/defensive midfielder.
Brooks, Zaha and Ampadu form a hat-trick of players to have slipped through England’s net in recent times.
Time will tell how much the FA will regret these missed opportunities.
Although in the case of Zaha, there is already considerable regret.
Southgate is keen to avoid further situations of a similar ilk.
Nathaniel Chalobah, born in Sierra Leone, was given two minutes at the end of England’s recent 3-2 win over Spain in the Nations League.
And the Three Lions’ coach is supposedly keen on capping Declan Rice in a competitive game before the West Ham teenager is tied down to Republic of Ireland.
Of course, we must remember that some players don’t want to play for England.
In such instances, no blame can be attached to Southgate or the FA.
But it’s never easy watching English-born talent flourish knowing they’ll never pull on the Three Lions.
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