9 Players Who Made The England Squad, But Never Played

Published on 03/22/2022

After been called up for England duty for the first time, Kyle Walker-Peters, Marc Guehi, and Tyrick Mitchell could live out their boyhood aspirations in the coming weeks – but nothing is guaranteed. In the next friendlies against Switzerland and Cote d’Ivoire, the Southampton full-back and Crystal Palace duo will be trying to earn their first England caps. After making changes to his team owing to injuries, Gareth Southgate is likely to take a look at them.

With the World Cup approaching later this year, this international break seemed to be the ideal time to make an impression. However, Walker-Peters, Guehi and Mitchell should be aware that things may not go as planned. Not every player that is called up receives a cap.

In fact, there is a long list of players who have been called up to England squads only to be unable to participate and find that the opportunity never occurs again. As proof, here are ten guys you never knew were ever called up for the Three Lions since they never got a chance to play for them.

Shutterstock 455413132

Shutterstock 455413132


Shaka Hislop

Between 1999 and 2006, Hislop earned 26 caps for Trinidad and Tobago, but he may have played for England before that. In 1998, the goalkeeper earned a call-up for a friendly against Chile while playing for Newcastle United. Unfortunately for him, Nigel Martyn played the entire game, so he never came off the bench.

Shay Given, the Newcastle team’s manager, then conspired against him, removing him from the squad. Hislop made one overage appearance for England under-21s in March 1998 before transferring to Trinidad & Tobago, for whom he played against England during the 2006 World Cup.

Nigel Reo-Coker

Reo-Coker made 23 games for England’s under-21 team, but was never promoted to the senior squad. When he was named to the reserve list for the 2006 World Cup, he came close to making the team, but was forced to withdraw due to injury.

Phil Neville joined the ranks of Scott Carson, Michael Dawson, Jermain Defoe, and Andrew Johnson on that list. It may not have made a difference, because Carson, the third-choice goalkeeper, was the only one of those players to make it to the tournament.

Curtis Davies

Davies, at 37, is still playing for Derby County, but he was in contention for an England cap in 2008. Fabio Capello, who was then playing for Aston Villa, was an admirer of the centre-back and called him up twice for friendlies against Switzerland and Germany.

But he never made it onto the field, and he never managed to get close to the national team again.

David Wheater

Never the bride, always the bridesmaid. Wheater was called up by Capello on a few occasions during his first year in command of England, but he never received the elusive cap. The Middlesbrough midfielder was in the squad for friendlies against France, the United States, and Trinidad & Tobago, as well as a World Cup qualification against Belarus, but he never got his chance to shine.

Jimmy Bullard

In the summer of 2008, the longhaired midfielder was given his first England call-up for qualifications against Andorra and Croatia, as well as a friendly against Germany, but he failed to impress Capello. In 2009, he suffered a knee injury, and at the age of 30, his chance had passed.

Karl Henry

Henry represented England at the under-18 and under-19 levels, but he was never selected for the senior team. In February 2011, the Wolves midfielder was named to a large 40-man squad for a friendly against Denmark, but he did not make the cut when Capello reduced the group to 25 players. That didn’t surprise Henry in the least.

“I was taken aback. “I don’t think I’ve done especially well in the last three or four games since I came back from injury,” he said at the time. “It hasn’t been a particularly good or steady season for me.”

David Stockdale

Stockdale might have gone further if England goalkeepers were chosen based on personal websites, but his David Brent-inspired attempt did not get him a cap. Stockdale, who describes himself as “motivated, big-hearted, straight-talking, and fun,” was named to six squads in 2011 but did not play.

Around this time, John Ruddy, Fraser Forster, and Ben Foster all received caps, but Stockdale’s “commanding presence and amazing shot-stopping” did not. He’s 36 years old and currently on loan at Stevenage from Wycombe Wanderers.

Saido Berahino

After a great start to the 2014/15 season with West Brom, Berahino was called up to the senior team for the first time in November 2014 for games against Slovenia and Scotland by his previous manager Roy Hodgson. During that time, the striker scored eight goals in 11 games, earning him a call-up after scoring 11 goals in 12 games for England’s under-21s.

However, he never played for Hodgson’s side and later switched allegiances to represent Burundi, his birth country.

Charlie Austin

Austin, who was called up with Jamie Vardy for games against the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia in 2015, was another striker who never got the chance to wear the England shirt. Because Daniel Sturridge was injured and Harry Kane, Danny Ings, and Saido Berahino had been called up for the under-21s’ European Championship squad, he was given the chance.