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Cricket World Cup 2023 top run scorers: Quinton de Kock regains first place

 Before almost every major international tournament, there is clamour for one player to be selected for England. This season, with Euro 2024 on the horizon next summer, that player could be Cole Palmer.

The 21-year-old was on Thursday overlooked by Gareth Southgate for his latest squad despite his fine form, but calls for him to be called up will only grow louder if he continues to shine for Chelsea.

Palmer has three goals and five assists in his past five matches and is out to make a statement on Sunday when his former club, Manchester City, visit Stamford Bridge.

"It's another big game against a great side," said Palmer, who was today named in the England Under-21 squad. "A side that I spent nearly all of my life at so far. It's going to be a good game… I'm looking forward to it."

Eyebrows were raised when Chelsea spent an initial £40million to sign Palmer in the summer, but he has quickly established himself as a key player under Mauricio Pochettino.

Now it looks like Chelsea might have secured a bargain.

The Blues decided to go for Palmer on deadline day after missing out on Jeremy Doku, who is now excelling at City, and Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise.

After Palmer joined, he did not go straight into the team, but since his first start — against Brighton in the Carabao Cup at the end of September — he has not looked back.

Palmer has added a fresh verve to the previously wasteful Chelsea attack and is now one of the first names on the team sheet, which was never the case at City.

In a variety of different positions across the frontline, he has brought composure through his almost Juan Mata-like ability to slow the game down.

He has also taken on penalty responsibilities, showing his seniority in the team. On Monday, playing off the right, he was instrumental again as Chelsea won 4-1 at Tottenham.

Pochettino said last week: "It's like he's here for 10 years, he is showing his character and personality."

Should Palmer continue his good form, then he will be pushing for an England call-up, even if head coach Southgate is reluctant to make too many changes to his squad for next summer.

Southgate is blessed with quality forward options, and it is hard to see Palmer starting ahead of Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish or Phil Foden. But he could be a wildcard option off the bench for the Euros in Germany.

A standout performance against City tomorrow would help his cause and he will be determined to show his old side what they let go.

Palmer, who is from Manchester, was at City from the age of seven, and it looked like this would be the season in which he could become a regular starter for his boyhood club, following the departure of Riyad Mahrez.

He scored in both the Community Shield against Arsenal and the UEFA Super Cup against Sevilla, but City boss Pep Guardiola was happy for him to leave.

Chelsea director of recruitment Joe Shields was influential in his move to Stamford Bridge, having worked at City, and the Blues swooped.

"I'm really enjoying it at Chelsea every day, on and off the pitch," said Palmer ahead of his reunion with City. "It was a big change for me to come here, but opportunities like this don't come around often, so I'm glad it's paying off."

Palmer knows the difficult challenge Chelsea face against City, who have won five straight games since their 1-0 defeat at Arsenal a month ago and have moved one point clear of Tottenham at the top of the Premier League.

After Monday's win at Spurs, Pochettino hopes to build some momentum, but Chelsea have had a dismal record against City since beating them in the 2021 Champions League Final. Chelsea have lost all six games since that night in Porto, with an aggregate score of 0-10. If they are to change that record on Sunday, Palmer is likely to be key.

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