BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
The Crystal Palace trio of Marc Guehi, Conor Gallagher and Wilfried Zaha could be calling Wembley a second home over the next few weeks with all three named in their respective international squads this week.
Gallagher has earned his second senior call-up under England manager and former Palace captain Gareth Southgate, who has also handed most recent Palace captain Marc Guehi his first senior England spot. The former Cray Wanderers player has represented England all the way from U16 level up.
Their England side will face Switzerland on March 26 and Wilfried Zaha’s Ivory Coast on March 29 at Wembley.
“With Marc, he’s had a really consistent season and in the biggest games he’s been very calm,” said Southgate about selecting Guehi. “We know a lot about him through our development teams as well. We think it’s a good opportunity to see slightly younger players and see how they cope with being with us.”
Ivory Coast-born Guehi received a message on his phone after training on Thursday notifying him of the final step-up and England U21 boss Lee Carsley, who made him his skipper, told the South London Press it was well-deserved – along with the second call-up for Gallagher.
“I’ve been aware of Marc for years, seeing him progress,” said Carsley. “I remember Marc being part of the Chelsea FA Youth Cup-winning team that beat Man City when I was there. I am more than aware of Marc.
“Marc and Connor really deserve their opportunity. We always speak about their ability and I’m sure you’ve seen that for yourself – what good lads they are. They’re good to be around, they’re really positive, they just get on with their jobs so and players like that are so easy to coach.
“They just deserve what that get and they deserve to really show what they can do. I just hope that they stay there and show Gareth and the senior staff what they can do.
“As a player, when you’re playing a lot of games, you learn to manage your body, your emotions and your form. Because Marc’s very strong mentally he learns quickly, which is which is a real good sign.
“I see him with the captain’s armband the other night [for Palace against Manchester City]. It’s a brilliant sign for him. Patrick Vieira was an outstanding captain himself and sees those attributes in Marc.”
For Palace boss Vieira, he was pleased with the call-ups for his players, but warned of the journey ahead.
“We are really happy, but there is still a long way to go to consider Marc – or Conor – as an international player,” said the Eagles manager, who captained France at the highest level.
“When you go to that level, you smell it, you taste it and you want to go back. But to go back you have to maintain your level with your club, and that is really good for us.”
Southgate’s first squad in this FIFA World Cup year could even include a third Eagle with Palace left-back Tyrick Mitchell potentially being called into the squad this weekend due to a lack of options in that position.
“We’ve been really impressed with Tyrick,” said Southgate about the Palace defender who has played all but nine minutes in the Premier League this season (2,601), the most of any Eagle.
“He’s very close [to being in the squad]. So who knows? We could have changes over the weekend and he’s one in our thoughts.”