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The 26-man squad England SHOULD have taken to the Euros

With the Euros soon upon us, we pick our England squad for the tournament.

Gareth Southgate had the unenviable job of picking just 26 players from England’s deep talent pool. The former Middlesbrough manager has tried to strike a balance between youth and experience, form and consistent performers for England. That has meant making a few difficult decisions. Gareth Southgate’s squad choices haven’t been without controversy with many fans calling out his selection, or more appropriately, the notable absences of Harry Maguire and Jack Grealish.


Both players have played vital roles for England in several pervious tournament campaigns. While Maguire has come off one of the best seasons of his Manchester United career and Grealish arrived to the England camp shortly after celebrating yet another Premier League trophy with Manchester City.


Critics of Gareth Southgate’s England management were given further ammunition when Iceland successfully overturned England at Wembley in their final pre-tournament friendly match. A considerable proportion of England fans are now questioning England’s prospects despite the plethora of talent at Southgate’s proposal.



Southgate has the privilege of seeing these players in training and so he has a far better understanding of the players he has available. However, with the controversy surrounding his selection, we decided to pick our own 26 man squad for the Euros.


When building this squad we stuck to a few key rules: 1) Every player has to be eligible for England. 2) The squad must fit Southgate’s formation and tactics. 3) There must be a minimum of 2 players per position.

Goalkeepers:

Jordan Pickford: England’s No. 1 has previously faced criticism for his performances with Everton. However, his displays for England have never been in doubt. An exceptional vocal shot stopper with great leadership skills, Jordan Pickford has a history of stepping up for his national team and thriving in big games. He provides a great foundation to build the rest of the team on.

Aaron Ramsdale: He may have fallen out of favour at Arsenal, despite negligible differences in performance with Raya, but he is still a very reliable keeper. Ramsdale’s ball playing skills offers control in games where England are going to dominate possession. Another vocal motivator and leader between the sticks.


James Trafford: A young upcoming keeper. The third choice goalkeeper will not likely see much game time. However, the experience of being part of the England group and training with the squad could be a massive advantage as he continues to develop towards being England’s first choice goalkeeper.

 

Defenders:

Luke Shaw: Left back has always been a problem position for England. Luke Shaw is the clear and obvious first choice for the position when fit and available. A strong dependable full back with offensive and defensive capabilities. However, Shaw has a mistake in him and has been caught out of position a less than ideal number of times.


Tyrick Mitchell: A recent England debutant and much-celebrated Crystal Palace academy graduate. Mitchell appears to be the clear and obvious option to replace Luke Shaw in the coming years as long as Southgate doesn’t ostracise him so much that he changes allegiance to Jamaica.


Fikayo Tomori: Tomori’s consistent absence from the England national team is indicative of Southgate’s domestic player bias which resulted in Henderson, a Southgate favourite, calling the manager for reassurance that his move abroad wouldn’t have consequences for his England prospects. Tomori has been exceptional in Italy; the land of the centre back. A big strong dependable ball playing centre back, he would settle into England’s deeper defensive line like a duck to water.


John Stones: John Stones is England’s most prestigious centre back. A real presence defensively, Stones is a force to be reckoned with for attackers. In possession, his tutoring under Guardiola, passing ability and footballing brain make him a great asset for England’s slow possession-based style of football.


Jarrad Branthwaite: Everton’s upcoming star centre back has been linked with a big summer move after a great season. A tall capable defender with good reading of the game. He could hold his own against the worlds best on his day. However, inexperienced and with a silly mistake or two in him, he shouldn’t be relied upon as a starter.



Joe Gomez: The Liverpool centre back has stepped forward this season when he was called upon playing over 30 games for his club. A solid centre back with great presence and an ability to play out of the back, Southgate can trust Gomez to shepherd his defence in key games.


Levi Colwill: Despite Chelsea’s poor season, Levi Colwill finished the season with a strengthened reputation. A capable defender and able play in any role across the back line, his flexibility could be a real benefit in tournament football.


James Tavernier: Despite never playing for England, James Tavernier is an experienced option in defence. A strong defensive influence and excellent attacking force Tavernier has all the qualities to be a reliable option for Southgate. Playing north of the border for one of the UK’s biggest teams, he has experienced and thrived in several intense boiling-point atmospheres. Tavernier has leadership quality and is the long-standing captain of Rangers. He has personality to be an asset to the group. While we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, the fact that Tavernier has consistently gone under England’s radar is baffling.

Kyle Walker: One of the best fullbacks in the world, with an exceptional defensive qualities and an effective attacking influence, if he is fully fit then he is one of the first names on the team sheet. Walker’s experience as part of a back three means that they are covered in the unlikely event that England are short of centre backs.


Midfielders:

Trent Alexander-Arnold: Alexander-Arnold is one of England’s most technical players. The Liverpool player has recently undergone a change in his responsibilities, moving into midfield when in possession. While Southgate is most likely use him in central midfield. His passing and understanding of the game means he could take on the deep lying playmaker role with ease.


Declan Rice: Rice had a high-profile transfer from West Ham to Arsenal in the summer. But settled in quickly and instantly showed his class for the Gunners as he became a vital component in their title push. He excelled as an eight for Arsenal and could play a vital role in transition for England. However, with the absence of defensive midfielders, he may be best served as a combative six. However he’s deployed, Rice should be one of the first names on the team sheet.



Connor Gallagher: Gallagher is a great ball-carrier. He offers a forward thrust from midfield which could be vital when moving from defence to attack. Gallagher drives forward help break down stubborn defensive set ups. While he is also useful in both defensive and final thirds of the pitch.


Jude Bellingham: Jude Bellingham is England’s star man this summer. The Madridista is one of the favourites to pick up the Ballon d’Or this year. He has been pivotal to Real Madrid’s La Liga and the Champions League trophies this season. He will looking to add to his trophy collection this summer. A dynamic midfielder with a creative spark and knack for finding the back of the net. He is going to be vital to England’s Euros campaign.

Adam Wharton: Wharton has undergone a meteoric rise from Blackburn to a Premier League top performer. One of the best distributors in English football last season, he can fit into the deep lying midfielder role with ease.


Angel Gomes: The former Manchester United midfielder has gone from strength to strength since moving to France. With a low centre of gravity and great close control he is a different profile to the rest of England’s midfield options. He can play in any of the central midfield positions making him a good utility player. Another one that missed out due to Southgate overlooking English players plying their trade abroad.

 

Attacker:

Harry Kane: Kane is one of the best strikers in England’s history. A prolific goal scorer with great finishing technique, Kane has to be in anyone’s Euros team. He does more than score too; getting involved in deeper positions and setting up his teammates. He has to be in everyone’s Euros squad.


Ollie Watkins: Watkins has always been a great player but he has really stepped up under Emery. He is now one of the most prolific players in the Premier League with effective movement and great one and two touch finishing technique. Watkins is a walking goal machine.


Phil Foden: Anyone that has watched Manchester City this season know how good Phil Foden is. The dynamic forward is a complete attacking package. He is great on the ball, a fantastic finisher and he has the movement that can flummox any defender. Its more than likely he will start most games this tournament.

Cole Palmer: Another really good goal scorer last season, Palmer has quickly become Chelsea’s talisman. The weight on Palmer this season shows exactly how he handles pressure meaning he can be trusted in the biggest games this summer.


Bukayo Saka: Arsenal’s busy winger has been an ever-present member of the first team as they pushed for the trophy this season. An excellent dribbler, great shot taker and brilliant personality. Saka is the archetypal player for a Euro’s tournament.


Anthony Gordon: His exceptional season on Tyneside means that he has earned his place in the squad. An exceptional young talent that seems to be going from strength to strength. It'll be interesting to see how much further he can grow.



Eberechi Eze: The trickster Southgate has opted to replace Jack Grealish. He is exceptional on the ball and he has the end result to back it up. He could prove to be the black horse of England’s Euros squad.


Jack Grealish: Grealish may have struggled to match the highs of Aston Villa in Guardiola’s highly-structured Manchester City side. However, he has been an important part of the sides successes in recent years. His unique set of skills including his close dribbling, quick turn of pace and ability to win freekicks offer something that England’s other forwards do not. These skills could be crucial to a successful Euros campaign. His famous ability to win fouls means he can slow down the game, ruin the oppositions momentum and create dangerous situations. These skills could be vital in the tight games that International football fosters.

 

Dropped:

If you are to make any changes to the squad then it means that someone is unfortunately going to miss out. Below are the list of players that didn't make the cut and why. It must be made known that each player is exceptional in his own right and they have all deserved a call up. It is picking between these players that makes forming squads so difficult.


Dean Henderson: It's unlikely that Henderson will see any minutes in Germany this summer. So his place was freed up for a young upcoming player who may gain more from the experience of being with the squad.



Ezri Konsa: The Aston Villa centre back is a dependable option for Southgate. The kind of player that can be trusted at the base of almost any team. However, someone had to be cut to rebalance the squad. In this case Konsa was just short of making the cut.


Lewis Dunk: The towering centre back mixes aerial strength with an ability and know-how to play Southgate's style of play. He was also cut in order to rebalance the squad.


Marc Guehi: Guehi is one of the most promising centre backs in England's armoury. However, he had a less than convincing game against Bosnia and Herzegovina as he was responsible for too many mistakes when playing out from the back. It is likely that with England's style of play that he will end up in these situations on a frequent basis during the Euros. Centre backs are often shaped with time with many centre backs finding their peak after other players. With that in mind, his performance against Bosnia does call into question whether he is ready for the responsibility of Euros football. Unlike other players where the gamble is valid, its important that England don't smother the promising flame that is Guehi by pushing him onto this stage too soon. That being said, its clear Guehi will be a nailed on starter in years to come.

Kieran Trippier: A stalwart in the England squad for a reason. He is an exceptional deadball specialist and knows exactly what he is doing on the flank. To make it even better, he has been really good for Newcastle this season. The only concern was sharpness at 33 years old and struggling to get minutes during the latter stages of the season.


Kobbie Mainoo: Mainoo has had an excellent season at Manchester United. The 19 year old is widely regarded as one of the best upcoming midfielders of his generation. There is clear benefits to taking him to Germany - not least his exceptional talent. However, he is extremely raw and potentially exposing him to International tournaments this early in his development could cause more harm than good (see Walcott).


Ivan Toney: There is no doubting Ivan Toney's talents. The frontman has been a consistent and prolific Premier League goal scorer for some time. However, he comes packaged with recent controversial baggage which resulted in limited game time this season. He only plays one position too, which, with our rebalanced side, means it is just too far of a stretch for him. Had he played the whole season then he may well have been in the squad.

Jarrod Bowen: An excellent winger with energy and effort that is not met by any other player. Bowen was incredibly close to making the squad. If it was a 27-man squad he'd be on the plane - that close.


Honourable Mentions:

Harry Maguire: The Manchester United centre back has improved massively this season and if he was fit and available then he would be on the plane. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that he will be available for selection for a great swathe of the tournament.


Rico Henry: Henry is a player that we have been tracking since his early days in the Championship. It was clear that there was something special about the fullback. After a few seasons finding his feet in the Premier League, he put himself into the conversation for England this season. However, an unfortunate injury ruled him out of contention.


Trevor Chalobah: A player that has shown how effective he can be in Chelsea’s turn around in the latter stages of last season. Unfortunately, he hasn’t played enough to secure his seat on the plane to Germany.


James Maddison: The Tottenham playmaker is a great creative force. However, he is competing in a stacked section of the midfield. His injury record has held him back from being selected in our Euros team as there is already a number of injury prone players.



Chuba Akpom: Akpom is left-field option. The late-bloomer has the second best goals per minute rate of any English player in the top European leagues (after Kane). He also offers something different, preferring to operate behind a main striker. His lack of game time means he would be a fresh option going into the tournament but it also means he can’t be seriously considered for the tournament. Another season and more minutes and he could be considered for the squad next season.


Conclusion:

Southgate's England selection is not without controversy and our 26-man squad will likely receive its own critics. However, there are English players across the continent which have missed out on the squad. Whether you believe each of the ones we've mentioned deserve a call up is up to personal opinion. However, there is no doubt that some of these players offer something different to the rest of the squad and there is a possibility that the inclusion of a few of these players could have made a difference during the tournament.



How far will England go in Euro 2024?

  • Group Stages

  • Round of 16

  • Quarter Finals

  • Semi Finals


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