AC Milan

Fikayo Tomori shows England what they're missing in Milan derby

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Tomori was bizarrely snubbed by Gareth Southgate recently
Tomori was bizarrely snubbed by Gareth Southgate recently / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

When Gareth Southgate named his England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Albania and San Marino, he made headlines with several high-profile snubs.

Not only did Manchester United's £73m summer arrival Jadon Sancho fail to make the 23, there were also questions asked over the omissions of Emile Smith Rowe, Jesse Lingard and Jarrod Bowen.

Cases can be made for the inclusion of all three of these players in the squad, but their absences were nowhere near as glaring as the one at left centre-back.

The Fikayo-Tomori-shaped hole in Southgate's squad list was as surprising as it was disappointing for anyone who has followed his career since he fearlessly opted to try his luck in Italy last January.

After an impressive loan spell during the latter half of the 2020/21 campaign, Tomori has ascended to another level this term, playing every minute for a Milan side that has won 10 of their opening 12 Serie A games.

AC Milan vs FC Internazionale - Serie A
Tomori needs to be in the England squad soon / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Fielded alongside the unflappable Simon Kjaer, his speed and incisive passing have blended nicely with the Dane's attributes, helping the Rossoneri register the second best defensive record in the entire division.

Tomori's incredible start to the season is not the only reason that his jilting is so shocking. His case is strengthened significantly when you consider the modest pickings that receive a phone call - or more likely, a WhatsApp - from Southgate's PA this week.

Tyrone Mings, for example, has spent the period between the last two international breaks playing bass guitar (badly) during Aston Villa's losing tour of England, taking in defeats against Wolves, West Ham, Arsenal and Southampton.

He was even dropped for the visit of the high-flying Hammers, only to be offered a reprieve when Ezri Konsa was shown a red card in the second half.

Elsewhere in the 23, Harry Maguire - although he would obviously never get dropped - has been in horrific form. Although the fact he was rushed back by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after just one on-grass training session for his side's defeat to Leicester is a large mitigating factor in his defence.

Then there's Conor Coady - a nice man, but not someone taking part in the biggest game in Europe this weekend.

This leads us to another supporting argument for Tomori's inclusion in the England squad: his display in the Derby della Madonnina.

Now, this was not the 23-year-old at his absolute best - Lautaro Martinez found a worrying amount of space at times - but there was still plenty of evidence of just how special a player he is developing into.

Faced with the unenviable task of keeping Edin Dzeko and the aforementioned Martinez at bay, Tomori largely fared well at San Siro - even if his left-back, Fode Ballo-Toure, was doing his best to give him a tricky night.

His reading of the game defied his tender years, with the centre-back finishing with seven clearances and two blocks. On the ball, he impressed too. Rarely giving the ball away despite the advances of the ever-pressing Martinez, he also opened up the game with his long passing.

Overloads in wide areas are key in Stefano Pioli's game plan and it was a similar story against their rivals, even if the suspended Theo Hernandez was forced to watch on from the stands. Having someone like Tomori who can spread the play at the heart of the defence is such a boost to his side.

However, the highlight of his night was the goal he 'scored' in the first half. Well, oh so we thought. Although Tomori wheeled off, his face exploding with pure ecstasy, a replay showed that Sandro Tonali's cross had in fact been diverted into his own net by Stefan de Vrij.

He may not have registered a second Serie A goal, but his almost-unhinged celebration was telling. This is a player fully-invested in Milan, and thriving with the confidence that no doubt brings.

Progress has been made in the new-look, cosmopolitan England selection process in recent years, with Kieran Trippier, Sancho and Tammy Abraham retaining a place in the conversation despite turning their backs on the Premier League.

Tomori's recent omission is a grim throwback to days of old and Southgate much start to integrate one of his best centre-backs into the side sooner rather than later.


For more from Matt O’Connor-Simpson, follow him on Twitter!

facebooktwitterreddit