Evan Ferguson has never given Gareth Southgate "any inkling" he would have been open to switch from Ireland, but the England manager did admit their interest in Elliot Anderson, who has just pulled out of the Scotland squad.
Southgate similarly revealed that the Football Association had pursued whether Erling Haaland would play.
Ferguson's sensational form for Brighton, including a hat-trick against Newcastle this month, has naturally seen renewed discussion over whether he could change nationalities, since he does have an English mother, something that is now actually impossible due to the fact he has played sufficient games for Ireland.
Southgate, speaking after England’s draw with Ukraine in Poland, which leaves the Three Lions with issues to fix to triumph at Euro 2024, stated that was his understanding, while adding that the 18-year-old has always made it "very clear" he wants to play for Ireland.
“I think he’s played too many games at senior level, I think he’s got eight caps now," Southgate said. "I’m not exactly sure on whether he definitely can’t, but I think he’s made it very clear he feels he was born in Ireland and he’s represented them and I would 100 per cent [support that].
“I think he’s a bloody good player. We have to respect him, I don’t think he’s given any inkling that would be any different.”
It is understood that the FA did at least consider the possibility of persuading Ferguson to commit to the Three Lions, as is done with every promising player of eligibility, including Manchester City and Norway superstar Haaland.
“At the same time, we were looking at Haaland and wishing that he might have been available as well,” Southgate added. “But we’ve got a pretty good number nine and we’re very happy with him.”
Southgate did confirm that Anderson is a possibility. The Newcastle United youngster has played for underage teams of both England and Scotland, but has now pulled out of the latter's senior squad due to injury, having been called up by Steve Clarke in August.
The two countries actually play in a 150th anniversary friendly on Tuesday, and there could have been the curious situation that Anderson might have received a first international cap for Scotland against England, only to switch to his first-ever international opponents. Southgate admitted the 20-year-old's international future is open.
“I don't know,” Southgate said. “We liked him and we do like him. We think he’s a player that’s doing really well.
“Obviously, he was called into their squad earlier in the week and I don’t know what the position is at the moment. I saw he’s pulled out.
“Let’s see, that’s something that [FA Technical Director] John [McDermott] and others at our organisation will be picking up. He’s definitely a player we like.”