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West Ham: Jarrod Bowen is England’s rising star and he MUST get a World Cup audition

Gareth Southgate simply cannot ignore Jarrod Bowen any longer. West Ham’s driving force this season must be called up into the England squad for the March internationals.

His club manager David Moyes rightly said Bowen is now ‘knocking on the door’ when it comes to the national team and his case strengthens with every passing week.

Take the way the forward seized the initiative in West Ham’s 2-0 home win over Norwich on Wednesday night, a result that returned the Hammers to the Premier League top four.

Jarrod Bowen scored twice as West Ham beat Norwich to continue his excellent season so far

Jarrod Bowen scored twice as West Ham beat Norwich to continue his excellent season so far

The wide forward has eight goals and eight assists for the upwardly mobile Hammers

The wide forward has eight goals and eight assists for the upwardly mobile Hammers 

His fun week continued as he attended the Cirque du Soleil's 'Luzia' premiere at the Royal Albert Hall alongside his celebrity girlfriend Dani Dyer on Thursday night

His fun week continued as he attended the Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Luzia’ premiere at the Royal Albert Hall alongside his celebrity girlfriend Dani Dyer on Thursday night

It’s obvious Norwich are out of their depth once again at this level but these kind of games can become fraught with tension if nobody rises above the fray.

Bowen not only scored both of West Ham’s goals, he saw another disallowed by VAR for offside and was twice denied by the woodwork.

That’s the performance of a footballer at the peak of their powers and while Southgate rightly has loyalty to long-serving players in Bowen’s position, the England manager must also consider form.

It’s obvious visually that Bowen is playing well – the sharpness and cleverness of his movement was excellent again on Wednesday night – and it’s reflected in the stats as well.

His two goals mean that’s 16 goal involvements for the season now in all competitions (eight goals, eight assists), more than any other English player.

The clamour for Bowen (left) to join his club-mate Declan Rice (right) in the England squad is growing with every passing week, and surely Gareth Southgate will be watching closely

The clamour for Bowen (left) to join his club-mate Declan Rice (right) in the England squad is growing with every passing week, and surely Gareth Southgate will be watching closely

More strikingly, it’s more than fellow Englishmen Jadon Sancho (two goals), Marcus Rashford (three goals, one assist) and Jack Grealish (three goals, three assists) combined.

Those three wide attackers have remained pretty much constants in Southgate’s England squads over the past few years but the England manager knows it can’t remain a closed shop.

With all three struggling to hit their stride this season, the England boss may feel extra competition is required in a World Cup year. Bowen can provide it.

The fixture list is ideal for his integration as well. The Three Lions have two friendlies in March, against opposition yet to be confirmed, and then tackle the bulk of the next UEFA Nations League competition in June.

They have been drawn against their Euro 2020 conquerors Italy, old rivals Germany and Hungary in their group with four of the six matches set for the summer and the other two in September.

Hammers manager David Moyes said Bowen is 'knocking on the door' of international football

Hammers manager David Moyes said Bowen is ‘knocking on the door’ of international football

Bowen's good form comes as England regular Jadon Sancho is performing below his best

Manchester City have also not yet seen the best of Jack Grealish

Bowen’s good form comes as England regulars Jadon Sancho (left) and Jack Grealish (right) are performing below their best at Manchester United and Manchester City respectively

United's Marcus Rashford, another England regular, has also been criticised for his form

United’s Marcus Rashford, another England regular, has also been criticised for his form

England wide attackers’ form this season 

All competitions

Jadon Sancho (Man United)

Two goals, zero assists

Marcus Rashford (Man United)

Three goals, one assist

Jack Grealish (Man City)

Three goals, three assists

Raheem Sterling (Man City)

Nine goals, three assists

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

Seven goals, four assists

Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)

Eight goals, eight assists 

The Nations League is usually a lower priority anyway but doubly so when games fall at the end of a long and tiring domestic season.

While Southgate will see those four June matches, two of which will be played behind closed doors, as a handy tune-up for the World Cup in November, it does also present a chance to audition new players.

11 months out from the tournament, Bowen is already starting his long run-up to try and force his way into the squad for Qatar.

Recent weeks have seen a hat-trick of assists in their win at Watford just after Christmas, the decisive goal in Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Leeds and that double against Norwich.

Meanwhile, Sancho has failed to get going at Manchester United following a £73million summer move with his form so patchy Southgate left him out of his squad for November’s World Cup qualifiers.

Rashford, meanwhile, attracted the ire of the Old Trafford crowd for a perceived lack of effort during Monday night’s FA Cup match with Aston Villa and cut a frustrated figure after going an 11th game without scoring.

Grealish is having a better season following his £100m move from Aston Villa to Manchester City in the summer but only marginally.

He’s already had friction with manager Pep Guardiola over a night out with Phil Foden and those goal and assist returns are expected to be higher for someone who has started 13 Premier League and five Champions League games.

But England are certainly blessed in the wide attacking areas. Raheem Sterling is coming back into form at City and Bukayo Saka has brushed off his Euros final penalty pain by having a great season with Arsenal.

After a slow start to the season, Raheem Sterling has come into good form for Man City

After a slow start to the season, Raheem Sterling has come into good form for Man City

Bukayo Saka has been in very good form at Arsenal after his Euro 2020 penalty pain

Bukayo Saka has been in very good form at Arsenal after his Euro 2020 penalty pain

There should still be room for Bowen, however, and Moyes summed up the situation nicely on Wednesday night.

‘I think he is knocking on the door because he’s beginning to score and is getting assists,’ he said.

‘But the competition to get in the England team – especially those wide areas – is incredible.

‘It’s a really difficult job to get in the team but he’s doing a great job for West Ham.’

West Ham paid £18m for Bowen, which looks like a snip, but there will be interest in him

West Ham paid £18m for Bowen, which looks like a snip, but there will be interest in him

Regardless of whether international recognition comes his way, Bowen has been an outstanding piece of business for West Ham. The £18million they paid Championship Hull City in January 2020 is looking like a bargain now.

Bowen is 25 and his contract at the London Stadium runs through until 2025. It comes as no surprise that Liverpool have already been linked and other bigger clubs are bound to be interested.

West Ham, though, have much to be satisfied about at the moment.

Bringing Champions League football to the former Olympic Stadium next season would be a phenomenal achievement and there’s no reason why they can’t win either the FA Cup or the Europa League.

For Bowen, however, this year’s adventure may go beyond European competition all the way to the world stage.

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