As announced on 18th May, Gareth Southgate will be announcing his England squad ahead of the delayed European Championships on 25th May. UEFA has confirmed that participating nations will have to name a 26 man squad instead of the normal 23 man squad due to the Coronavirus pandemic. But does that make naming a squad easier for Southgate or does it throw more questions than answers as to where he adds the extra firepower to?
Nevertheless, the fun always comes in trying to predict the full 26 man squad that line up for England ahead of the Euro’s. Could this be the year football final comes home or are we set for another year of disappointment? Is this our best squad ahead of the Euro’s? Let us know in the comments below!
Goalkeepers – Nick Pope, Dean Henderson and Sam Johnstone
England normally have had the luxury of having one standout keeper ahead of a major tournament, if you try and forget about the horror show in the 2010 world cup. But again England have struggled to have one keeper stamp his name as a certainty for the number 1 jersey.
Nick Pope seems to be the obvious name to throw as the starting goalkeeper, having been in the England fold for a while and a lot longer than the other two names that we have picked for the 26 man squad. With Jordan Pickford having a fall from grace since the 2018 world cup and looking to be on the fringes of the Everton squad, Pope becomes the easiest replacement to name for the World Cup Penalty hero.
Dean Henderson has had a stop start season for Man United, finding game time limited at the beginning of the season and then become a rotational choice with first choice David De Gea. However, his season with Sheffield United showed lots of promise for the Manchester United Youth academy graduate and a place on the plane should be an easy choice.
The hardest decision was to pick between the experience of Pickford or the man who made the most saves in the Premier League this season. Although Johnstone played the entire season for the relegated Baggies, he showed huge amounts of potential and is on many clubs radars after the announcement that West Brom must sell the goalie to invest in their depleted squad. Pickford missed out on the last set of international friendlies and is my pick to miss out again.
Right Back – Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold
Right back might just be the most stacked position in the England squad as any of the 6 choices could easily make this squad. Kieran Trippier has become some what of a meme for England fans since his move to Madrid in the summer of 2019. Southgate shoehorned Trippier into the England side in the last set of friendlies and qualifiers, as he made the right back play on the oppisite side. Trippier has enjoyed a great season for Atletico and looks to have helped them to winning the La Liga title ahead of Barcelona and Real. For me this is a smart move bringing in the experienced defender, but no doubt many fans will be upset by his inclusion.
Kyle Walker is a shoe in for this squad. The speedy wing back has just won another Premier League title and League Cup with Man City. Not to mention he is also due to play in the Champions League final for the first time in the clubs history. Walker adds versatility to this squad as he is able to play as both a wing back but as a centre back if needed.
Trent is someone that should not be in the position he is in. 12 months ago this man was seen as the best right back in the world, now it’s a question to whether or not he will even make the squad at all. But form was always going to dip especially after the amount of injuries Liverpool have suffered in defence this season. There is no doubt in his ability but there is a question mark over his defensive capability.
A quick mention to both Reece James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka who have been outstanding this season but will the be the unlucky ones to miss out.
Centre Backs – Harry Maguire, John Stones, Tyrone Mings, Conor Coady
This could be a solid defence and something that many sides struggle to pick apart. Firstly, the man who has come under a lot of fire since his move to Man United, Harry Maguire has shown why he is one of England’s top centre backs this season. ‘Slabhead’ has rolled with the punches this year, proving that he can take the stick and still produce some of his best performances. A rock at the back and leader as well, Maguire will be the first name on the team sheet.
John Stones has undergone a dramatic change this season. The defender looked to be on the chopping block at Man City after the arrival of Ruban Diaz. But the former Barnsley CB has really shown the best side to his game this season. For me he is a player who could have a make or break tournament in regards to his England career.
Tyrone Mings has had a decent season for Aston Villa this season. Starting his career as a left back, his transition into the centre of defence has really helped him be noticed for his incredible amount of athleticism. Although I don’t see him getting many minutes at the Euro’s, it will be a great experience for him and help his development for the future.
Conor Coady hasn’t had the best of season with Wolves this season, but still has shown why he is one of England’s best no nonsense defenders out there. Playing as a midfielder in the youth set up, Coady possesses a range of passing that many of the other defenders lack. If Southgate decides to play a controlled base of football then Coady is the man to go with.
Left Back – Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell
The two best left backs in the entire Premier League this season and we have them both at our disposal! Luke Shaw has been unreal for Man United this season. The signing of Alex Telles looked to be the end of Shaw’s career at the Red Devils, but it seems to have done the opposite. Shaw has finally had a major injury free season, which has let him show his quality both in defence and in the attack. For me Shaw should be the first choice this summer.
Chilwell, on the other hand, is probably the better attacking option which helps if Southgate reverts to his favoured 5 back formation. Both are great at set pieces and helping on the over lap, however Chilwell seems to have a better attacking mindset and positioning. It’ll be a struggle to separate the two but there’s worse headaches to have.
Midfield – Phil Foden, Eric Dier, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Jude Bellingham, Jesse Lingard, James Maddison
The midfield might just be the hardest to pick. But here we go.
Phil Foden, no explanation needed he is one of the hottest prospects in world football today. Still only 20 years old, this will be his first of many England tournaments.
Eric Dier is a player that will be included due to him being one of Southgate’s favourites. A defensive midfielder, who has spent most of this season playing at centre back, he covers 2 positions and brings a shed load of experience with him.
Kalvin Phillips will be a name all Leeds fans will be looking forward to seeing on the England team sheet. The Yorkshire Pirlo has stepped up to the Premier League in great fashion and will look to continue growing as a player in the Euro’s.
Rice has had a great season for a very surprising West Ham side that have pushed the envelope all season. Again another player who can play in both the midfield and defence, Rice will one of the major names in this tournament in my opinion.
There’s little you can say it comes to Mason Mount. The young midfielder has been great for Chelsea this season and is another fantastic young prospect that England can look forward to having for years to come.
*Copy the above and replace Mount and Chelsea for Bellingham and Dortmund.* The former Birmingham City player has had a great season for Dortmund, including scoring his first Champions League goal for the club. Another who might struggle for game time but will gain a lot from being included.
Lingard has been a man reborn since his move to West Ham in January. Originally it looked to be the end of Lingard’s England career after Euro 2018 but his fine form in 2021 may just see him sneak back in. Lingard will be a welcomed addition to the squad and will be one of those players who benefits from it being 26 instead of the usual 23 man squad.
James Maddison and Jack Grealish might be fighting it out for this spot in the squad after both have had to deal with injuries towards the back end of the season. However, with Maddison already recovered and Grealish still side-lined, I’d imagine Southgate will pick Maddison.
Attack – Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Bukayo Saka
This could be a scary thought for any team having to face any of these combinations.
Harry Kane is a given, the captain, the World Cup Goal Boot winner and the clinical finisher will be the starting striker at the Euro’s.
Rashford has finally found a decent amount of form playing out on the left for Man United. The position seems to suit him more, being able to cut in on his right foot, almost Ribery-esc. Although, he’s enjoyed a good season, it’ll be a battle to get a starting role.
Jadon Sancho looked for all the world to have really cooled of at the start of this season. However, 2021 has been his year so far. Dortmund have seen the best of the English youngster and with him adding his first piece of major silverware with the DFB Polka, Sancho will be looking to add another this summer.
Sterling is another who has had a stop start season with Man City. Having started the season playing as a striker for the injured Jesus and Aguero, Sterling found the net several times. However, since then has really faded into the background. Nevertheless, I expect him to be on the plane this summer.
Calvert-Lewin is another who has calmed down since his blistering start to the season. Having been the top scorer for most of this season, DCL has struggled to replicate that form since the beginning of the year. With both Patrick Bamford and Ollie Watkins breathing down his neck for this spot, he will be praying that Southgate looks at him as the future of the England team.
Bukayo Saka is the one and only good thing to come out of Arsenal this season. A talent who looks to be one of the mainstays that Arteta will build his future squads around. Saka can play both as a winger or a wing back and has great ability on the ball. Again he may struggle for minutes, but will be someone who will feature for England regularly in the future.
That’s my prediction for the England squad next Tuesday, 25th May, let me know in the comments below if you agree and if not, who would you have going to the Euro’s this summer.