Demarai Gray and three other Everton players who can feel aggrieved not being picked for international duty

The Toffees have started the season in fine form but only a handful of players have been selected by their respective nations.

The international break. It can bring some conflicting emotions.

On the one hand, football fans want their players wrapped up in cotton wool and available for club duty once domestic fixtures resume.

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Certainly, given Everton’s already depleted squad, supporters will be hoping that is the case and none of their troops sustain a knock in the upcoming games.

But, on the other hand, international call-ups are reward for an individual’s form - and recognition of a club’s form.

The Toffees have started the season magnificently under Rafa Benitez. They sit fifth in the table and just two points off the summit of the Premier League.

Of the senior players at Goodison Park, Jordan Pickford (England), Lucas Digne (France), Yerry Mina (Colombia) and Anthony Gordon (England under-20s) meet up with their respective nations.

Had they been fit then Dominic Calvert-Lewin (England), Richarlison (Brazil) and Seamus Coleman (Republic of Ireland) would also be temporarily leaving Merseyside.

Meanwhile, Salomon Rondon has been excused from Venezuela duty because of quarantine rules upon his return to England.

But given Everton’s opening to the campaign, there are several others who can feel aggrieved to not have been selected during the international break.

Demarai Gray

Demarai Gray, centre, during England training in September 2018. Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images

The winger has made a dream start to life at Goodison Park after his £1.7 million arrival from Bayer Leverkusen.

Evertonians are seeing the Gray that he threatened to be earlier in his career at Birmingham and Leicester - where he won the Premier League title.

The 25-year-old was a regular for England at under-21 level, scoring eight goals in 26 appearances. At the 2019 European Championships, Gray rubbed shoulders with the likes of Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Fikayo Tomori - who are all in Southgate's current squad.

He was also named in the senior squad in September 2018 but was unused.

The wide men in England's set-up this month include Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling (both Manchester City), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) and Jadon Sancho (Manchester United).

Gray has more goal involvements (four) than any of the quartet - and just one few than all of them combined.

If Gray keeps up those levels of displays, surely he'll be banging on the door to be selected for the Three Lions next month.

Abdoulaye Doucoure

The powerhouse midfielder is rightfully getting lauded not just by Toffees fans but in the wider football world.

Doucoure is thriving under the new responsibilities handed to him by Benitez.

Having been restricted to a defensive role under previous boss Carlo Ancelotti, the 28-year-old now has a licence to bomb on forward.

That reflects in his impressive contributions in the final third, with Doucoure scoring two and registering four assists so far.

There's been rightful clamour for the ex-Watford midfielder to be given his maiden call-up by World Cup holders France.

The likes of Matteo Guendouzi, on loan from Arsenal at Marseille, Juventus' Adrian Rabiot and AC Milan's Theo Hernandez are instead in Les Bleaus' squad.

Allan

Everton midfielder Allan. Picture: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

With Brazil constantly monitoring Richarlison, it'd be a surprise if they aren't running the rule over Allan at the same time.

Alongside Doucoure, the former Napoli midfielder has been a rock in the engine room.

His remit is to provide protection and steel, with no player in the Premier League posting successful pressures (gaining possession within five seconds of pressure) than his tally of 58.

Allan received a call-up to the Brazil squad last November but has been snubbed since.

Of Brazil's roster this month, Allan is most likely to be pushing to dislodge Fred (Man Utd), Gerson (Marseille) and Edenilson (Internacional)

Andros Townsend

Andros Townsend celebrates his opening goal for Everton against Norwich. Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

At the age of 30, the wide man may well never be involved with England again. His last of 10 caps arrived in October 2016.

Southgate, on paper, has younger, more talents players and will want them to gel ahead of next year's World Cup after suffering penalty shootout heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final.

Still, if you're selecting squads on pure form alone then Townsend simply has to be in the conversation.

Any supporter who was underwhelmed when he arrived on a free transfer from Crystal Palace has well and truly changed their mind.

Townsend embodies everything that an Everton player should show - commitment, desire and pride wearing the badge.

Not only that but his form in the final third has been immense.

In the Premier League, he boasts five goal involvements - three efforts of his own and two assists.

Out of every English player in the top flight, only Jamie Vardy (seven) brags more. Sancho, Grealish, Saka, Sterling and even team-mate Gray are in his wake.

In all competitions, Townsend has registered five goals and three assists in nine appearances.

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