The domestic season is done and there’s still the small matter of the Europa League and Champions League finals for English fans to follow but attention can now turn to the Euro 2020 Championships. The big questions remain, who will make the squad, and will Gareth Southgate pick a solid 23 players or take the olive branch extended by UEFA to have a 26-man squad?
Southgate is expected to name the squad on Tuesday 25th May ahead on the June 1 deadline, with the competition set to start on June 11. It’s not going to be an easy task for the manager and his team with all matters considered.
England are drawn in a tough Group D, which has Czech Republic, Scotland and Croatia. In the last Euro Championships, they got eliminated at the second round stage by minnows Iceland and it will be interesting to see how the Euro 2021 predictions coming on SportyTrader rate the Three Lions’ challenge this time
Late injuries have already rocked Southgate’s possible selections with goalkeeper Nick Pope almost surely ruled out while Harry Maguire has been on crutches after damaging ankle ligaments earlier in the month. Jordan Henderson could still make it even after failing to play since February 20 and Kalvin Phillips’ injury on the final day of the season could come as a blow.
In the goalkeeping department, Nick Pope is already out as he undergoes minor surgery on the knee and West Bromwich Albion’s Sam Johnstone is likely to get a chance. Johnstone will however be third choice to Jordan Pickford and Dean Henderson.
In defence, Ben Chilwell and Luke Shwa are outright picks in left back and in the right, Southgate has to make a decision on Recce James, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Harry Maguire’s injury will force the manager to a gamble in central defence. He could be paired with any of John Stones, Tyrone Mings and Connor Coady.
In midfield, Declan Rice seems set for a certain call after recovering from injury while Eric Dier could also get the nod in the defensive mid position and his ability to play in central defence may favor him too. Kalvin Philips is a doubt but Southgate may still give him a look especially given he is open to calling Jordan Henderson. James Ward-Prowse’s creativity and ability with set pieces will place him in consideration while Mason Mount and Phil Foden will be definite additions after good seasons. Jude Bellingham may miss out though, with Jack Grealish returning from injury and being pivotal for Aston Villa.
Bukayo Saka has been Arsenal’s shining light, and can feature as a defensive or attacking player. That gives him a huge advantage and in a pool that has prospective call ups like James Maddison, Dele Alli and Harry Winks, Saka stands out.
The forward line isn’t bound to be as tricky as the midfield for Southgate. Harry Kane is a natural pick. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Danny Ings could come in as supporting strikers while Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford remain in consideration despite playing lesser towards the end of the season. Now the real headache will be on Mason Greenwood who has had a good run in the final stages of the season while Southgate will also be pressed to have a look at Ollie Watkins, Jadon Sancho and Patrick Bamford.
However this turns out, Southgate has a tough job ahead, not just at the tournament but in naming the squad. He is set for a press conference right after naming the team and even before he does that, there are questions he must prepare to answer.