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5u VQ Euro 2020: The big decisions Gareth Southgate must make as he names his England squad – Man Utd
June 22, 2021

Man Utd

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Euro 2020: The big decisions Gareth Southgate must make as he names his England squad

7 min read

Today’s the day. Right on UEFA’s deadline, Gareth Southgate will confirm the 26 players who will carry English hopes at Euro 2020 this summer.

Just 13 days before England’s campaign begins against Croatia at Wembley, the manager is poised to cut his provisional squad of 33 players down to size.

It will have been a long Bank Holiday weekend for Southgate mulling – even agonising – over the various selection dilemmas still to be resolved.

England manager Gareth Southgate (left) is set to name his 26-man squad for Euro 2020, with one of the biggest decisions being whether to make room for Trent Alexander-Arnold (right)

England manager Gareth Southgate (left) is set to name his 26-man squad for Euro 2020, with one of the biggest decisions being whether to make room for Trent Alexander-Arnold (right)

Expectations are sky high as England build up to their Euro opener against Croatia on June 13

Expectations are sky high as England build up to their Euro opener against Croatia on June 13

But by the end of the day, we will know who’s in and who’s out for a tournament everyone hopes will culminate with England lifting the trophy at Wembley on July 11.

Attention will then turn to pre-tournament preparations with just two friendly matches – against Austria on Wednesday and Romania on Sunday, both at Middlesbrough – to fine-tune.

So what are the squad dilemmas Southgate faces ahead of the final announcement today?

Which right-back is going to miss out?

It’s the one position England really do seem to be blessed in. Southgate named four right-backs in his provisional squad and, in all likelihood, one will be getting the chop.

Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold could well be the unfortunate right-back who becomes surplus to requirements with Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and Reece James getting the nod.

Alexander-Arnold was dropped for March’s trio of World Cup qualifiers, much to the disbelief of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, with Southgate saying the 22-year-old hadn’t scaled the heights of recent seasons.

Trent Alexander-Arnold in training at England's pre-Euro camp in Middlesbrough this week

Trent Alexander-Arnold in training at England’s pre-Euro camp in Middlesbrough this week

Reece James was excellent as Chelsea won the Champions League final on Saturday night

Reece James was excellent as Chelsea won the Champions League final on Saturday night

The key dates 

Today England squad of 26 named

Tomorrow Friendly vs Austria at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough

Sunday Friendly vs Romania in Middlesbrough

June 13 Euro 2020 opener vs Croatia at Wembley

June 18 Second group game vs Scotland at Wembley

June 22 Final group game vs Czech Republic at Wembley 

July 11 Euro 2020 final at Wembley 

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Walker has long been established in that position under Southgate and is also capable of playing as a right-sided centre back in a three.

Southgate is loyal to Trippier, who has played an important role in Atletico Madrid’s LaLiga win, while James was excellent in Chelsea’s Champions League final win on Saturday night.

Though Southgate was keen last week to stress the versatility of the quartet – meaning they were not necessarily just right-backs – one is going to have to make way and Alexander-Arnold looks the most likely.

Who gets the nod up front?

Southgate named 10 forwards in his provisional squad and England are particularly blessed with speedy wide forwards.

Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa may have scored on his England debut against San Marino back in March but he will be bracing himself for bad news on Tuesday.

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka is vulnerable and Sportsmail has revealed that Jesse Lingard has missed out despite a strong loan spell at West Ham. 

That’s despite Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood withdrawing from the provisional squad ahead of the announcement ‘in order to recover fully from an underlying injury.’ 

Lingard does have tournament experience in his corner: Three years ago he started England’s World Cup semi-final loss to Croatia.

Ollie Watkins (left) has enjoyed a great season with Aston Villa but may not quite make the cut

Ollie Watkins (left) has enjoyed a great season with Aston Villa but may not quite make the cut

Jesse Lingard has been sensational on loan at West Ham but is poised to miss out on the squad

Jesse Lingard has been sensational on loan at West Ham but is poised to miss out on the squad

But with captain Harry Kane and two of Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho guaranteed starters, Southgate will have to ensure there are impact substitutes who can offer something a bit different if England are chasing a game.

Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin looks likely to edge out Watkins as the back-up centre forward to Kane after netting 21 goals this season.

And room will surely be made for Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, both exciting players.

Mason Greenwood has withdrawn from the squad to recover from an underlying injury

Mason Greenwood has withdrawn from the squad to recover from an underlying injury

Bukayo Saka of Arsenal plays for England in their Nations League win over Iceland last year

Bukayo Saka of Arsenal plays for England in their Nations League win over Iceland last year

33-man provisional squad  

Gareth Southgate will trim this 33-man provisional squad named last week down to 26 for the tournament. 

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Man Utd), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield Utd)

Defenders: John Stones (Man City), Luke Shaw (Man Utd), Harry Maguire (Man Utd), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Kyle Walker (Man City), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Reece James (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Ben Godfrey (Everton), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Ben White (Brighton)

Midfielders: Mason Mount (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Jesse Lingard (Man Utd), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd), Raheem Sterling (Man City), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Phil Foden (Man City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Mason Greenwood (Man Utd), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)

 

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Heart of the defence

Southgate went for half a dozen central defenders on his 33-man longlist and so we can expect two to be cut.

It’s highly likely to be Everton’s Ben Godfrey and Brighton’s Ben White as they lack the England experience compared to the others.

Manchester United’s Harry Maguire does face a race against time to be fit for the Croatia game, but such is his leadership his place isn’t in doubt.

Harry Maguire is struggling with an ankle injury and faces a fitness race for the Croatia game

Harry Maguire is struggling with an ankle injury and faces a fitness race for the Croatia game

Everton's Ben Godfrey is set to give way having been named in the provisional squad

Everton’s Ben Godfrey is set to give way having been named in the provisional squad

John Stones, Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady are the others set to be included and though Southgate has steered England back into a four-man defence lately, he’ll want the flexibility to deploy three in defence and wing-backs, as was the strategy until quite recently.

It is still anticipated that Stones and Maguire will be England’s first choice central defensive pairing for the bulk of the tournament.

But Southgate may have to call upon Mings or Coady for the Croatia game as Maguire desperately tried to get his ankle right again.

Tyrone Mings could start for England in their Euro 2020 opener if Maguire is still sidelined

Tyrone Mings could start for England in their Euro 2020 opener if Maguire is still sidelined 

Thinning out the midfield

There wasn’t an abundance of central or defensive midfielders named in the 33 but one will still have to drop out.

This won’t be the most difficult call for Southgate, whose concerns have been eased by Kalvin Phillips returning to training following a shoulder injury suffered on the final day of the Premier League.

The Leeds United man was joined by Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, who hasn’t played since February but is so experienced at international level, he is set to be included.

Jordan Henderson's vast experience wins him a squad place despite injury troubles

Jordan Henderson’s vast experience wins him a squad place despite injury troubles

Kalvin Phillips suffered an injury on the final day but has regained his fitness to make the squad

Kalvin Phillips suffered an injury on the final day but has regained his fitness to make the squad

It means that Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse, who has six caps and scored in the March win over San Marino, is the favourite to drop out.

That will mean Mason Mount, Declan Rice, Henderson, Phillips and Jude Bellingham take the midfield places.

James Ward-Prowse was delighted to score in England's World Cup qualifier with San Marino

James Ward-Prowse was delighted to score in England’s World Cup qualifier with San Marino

One keeper to make way

The expanded squad allowed Southgate the luxury of four goalkeepers but it will be three for the tournament itself.

Jordan Pickford will be first choice, with Dean Henderson and Sam Johnstone likely to get the nod over Aaron Ramsdale.

Johnstone, of West Brom, hasn’t won an England cap as yet but was selected for the March World Cup qualifiers and is ahead of Ramsdale, also uncapped.

Nick Pope, the usual back-up to Pickford, is ruled out of the tournament after undergoing knee surgery.

Aaron Ramsdale joined England's training camp but is unlikely to make the final three keepers

Aaron Ramsdale joined England’s training camp but is unlikely to make the final three keepers

Making sure the Chelsea, Man City and Man United players are fresh

There’s barely time to draw breath between the European finals that concluded the season and the start of preparations for Euro 2020.

Southgate will have dreaded an important player getting injured when Manchester United played Villarreal in last Wednesday’s Europa League final or in Saturday’s Chelsea vs Man City Champions League final.

Luckily, it appears everyone emerged unscathed.

Nonetheless, the likes of Luke Shaw, Rashford, Greenwood, Walker, Stones, Foden, James, Mount and Ben Chilwell will need a bit of downtime now if selected for the squad.

Chelsea trio Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount need a breather before the Euros

Chelsea trio Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount need a breather before the Euros

Dean Henderson and the injured Maguire were both unused substitutes for United’s final.

They aren’t likely to feature too heavily in the warm-up friendlies against Austria and Romania this week, with all focus being on ensuring they’re fresh for the big opener against Croatia on Sunday week.

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