With 133 senior appearances under his belt, is Sam Johnstone good enough for England?
When a player like Sam Johnstone’s name is brought up, it is easy to forget that he is still a very young player, especially in goalkeeping terms. He has already made 133 senior professional appearances and has come alive this year in an Aston Villa side that is gunning for the Premier League.
Having been on the books of Manchester United for most of his life, he will know that he is unlikely to break into the first team anytime soon. The Red Devils have the good fortune of having the best goalkeeper in the world in the form of David De Gea, who continues to do well between the sticks for United. In such a situation, Johnstone will have to continue to find opportunities elsewhere and try to keep playing at the highest level to avoid the trap of becoming a ‘back-up’ keeper.
Johnstone has appeared at many youth levels for England but is yet to make the step up to the senior team, and with the goalkeeping position wide open at the moment, this may be the time to stake his claim. It is unlikely that the average England fan would have known who Nick Pope was at the beginning of this year, so if things were to go right for Johnstone, he could find himself in the England reckoning earlier than expected.
The best case scenario for Johnstone would be for Aston Villa to be promoted and then joining them on a permanent basis. As per an earlier report from Birmingham Mail, the player had stated his desire play in the Premier League on a regular basis since it will give him the opportunity to impress Gareth Southgate on a more regular basis.
Depending on how the World Cup goes, England will spend the next two or three years building their squad. At the moment, they have a very young team and if none of the four goalkeepers in the reckoning right now manage to stake their claim, then there is scope for Johnstone making the step up.
However, it is unlikely that he will be able to do this while playing in the Championship, so it is imperative that he helps Steve Bruce and the rest of the team secure a promotion before the end of the season.