England call-ups show progress the Gunners are making insists Ramsdale

Aaron Ramsdale believes the fact three Arsenal players started England’s 10-0 thrashing of San Marino is proof of the upturn in fortunes at the Emirates Stadium.

Change of fortune: Former Sheffield United keeper Aaron Ramsdale was one of three Arsenal players in England's starting line up against San Marino. Picture: John Walton/PA Wire.

The Gunners goalkeeper, signed from Sheffield United for £24 million in the last transfer window, was handed his England debut on a record-breaking night in San Marino as Gareth Southgate’s men secured their place at the 2022 World Cup in style.

Harry Kane scored four goals in 15 first-half minutes with Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Tammy Abraham and a Filippo Fabbri own goal adding to the impressive tally.

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There was also a first England goal for Emile Smith Rowe, his recent fine form at Arsenal rewarded with a full senior debut for the Three Lions, while fellow Hale End academy graduate Bukayo Saka rounded off the rout.

The trio will now return to north London with Arsenal on the cusp of the Premier League top four, having been bottom of the table for the first international break of the season in September.

Asked if starting alongside Saka and Smith Rowe was a sign that things were improving for Mikel Arteta’s side, Ramsdale replied: “Yes I believe so, I’m delighted for those two. Obviously Emile has two caps now, his first start and first goal and Bukayo scored as well.

“It is a really nice evening for us three lads and the football club as a whole, as a football club we are making strides and we delivered on the international stage tonight and I couldn’t be more proud of those two boys.”

Ramsdale may have only had one save to make during a quiet debut between the posts but the former Bournemouth and Blades goalkeeper is keen to build on his bow.

“It is a night I won’t forget,” he added.

“A night I have been dreaming of for a long time, it doesn’t matter who we played or what the score was, it was a special day for myself and my family.

“Over the next few days I think I will properly digest it and look back on one the proudest days of my life.

“It has been my goal every time there’s been games coming up, so of course as you get that first taste you want even more but between now and Qatar there is a lot of football to be played - especially at club level and other internationals, so as long as I continue my form with Arsenal then I’m sure I can put something in the manager’s mind.

“At the end when the boss spoke to me, he just put his arm around me and said ‘this isn’t a throwaway game, we still weren’t qualified and we needed to obviously secure a point to go to Qatar, it is not just a chance for you to play and tick it off’.

“What I did in the game I did well, the save and a corner to come and claim so it was nice for him to say that to me, not to reassure me but just that it wasn’t a chance for me to do it because of the opposition we were playing.”

Meanwhile, Southgate insists Kane’s latest jump in the England goalscorer rankings is not diminished by the fact he hit four against lowly San Marino.

The Tottenham striker’s latest goalscoring exploits which caught the eye as he moved joint third with Gary Lineker on 48 goals, just one behind Sir Bobby Charlton and five off of Wayne Rooney’s all-time record.

Kane averaged a goal every 18 minutes in the November international break, having also hit a first-half hat-trick in Friday’s 5-0 win over Albania.

Those seven goals took him clear of Jimmy Greaves and Southgate says the level of the opposition does not take the gloss off Kane’s recent record.

“I think if you go back through those guys that have scored a lot of goals, they’ve got their fair share against some of the minnows,” Southgate said.

“He hasn’t had that opportunity in some of the recent games, we’ve rested him in those matches and (against San Marino) he took those opportunities as you’d expect.

“So I think across the the piece that won’t be unfamiliar with all of the top goalscorers.”

Kane played 63 minutes in both games, coming off at the San Marino Stadium already planning where his latest match ball would be displayed.

He shared a smile with Southgate as he left the pitch, with the England boss joking: “I said to him that Wayne Rooney’s family had been on the phone to get him off.

“He was going to go past about four leading goalscorers in one night. I think that, for a start, we wanted Kane and Maguire and a couple of other senior players in there as a message.

“I know everybody felt the job is done before you come here but every selection you make and giving the right balance is important. You want the younger players to go in and have some stability around them in order that they can play well.

“But also we’ve got thousands of fans travelling and the game the other night and (on Monday night) weren’t physically too demanding, so I didn’t feel that we were stretching the players in any way and we wanted to finish strongly.

“We’ve had a very good year and we wanted to finish that well.”