Which English players will make the cut for the Euro’s?


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As the 2021 Euro’s get closer and closer you can’t help but get excited, especially with the reports flying around suggesting that England will be the sole host of the tournament.

However, with that excitement comes concern and worry as to how England will perform. Everyone knows how tragic it was to see England crash out of the 2018 World Cup in the Semi-Finals and everyone will be hoping that this new labelled ‘Golden Generation’ can go one step further in this rescheduled competition.

Golden Generation isn’t a phrase to throw around lightly but with the immense level of youngsters breaking through to add to the already elite level of established players England has to offer, this should be one of their best chances to win the competition.

Unfortunately, Gareth Southgate can’t take everyone, he has to narrow his squad down to 23 players, so who will the England boss take and who will be left watching it on their TV? More importantly, who will make the starting XI?

Goalkeeper – Nick Pope

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Everyone is aware of Southgate’s loyalty to Jordan Pickford as even when the Everton goalkeeper has struggled, he has still kept him as the nation’s number one. The England manager must be turning his head to Nick Pope, the Burnley shot-stopper has arguably been one of the top three keepers in the league this season and has won his side points on several occasions.

Whereas in comparison, Pickford has made quite a few mistakes and has cost the Toffees points quite a few times.

Right Back – Trent Alexander-Arnold

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Up next is the right-back position and this might be the most controversial decision for the defence as there is so many options to choose from. The frontrunner for the position has to be Trent Alexander-Arnold, especially with the way Southgate utilised Kieran Tripper at the World Cup.

Even though the Liverpool player hasn’t been at his best this season he has slowly started to pick up some form in a good run of games.

A player who will also be thinking he is worthy of the number two shirt is Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The Manchester United right-back has impressed this season and has even improved his ability going forward, a part of his game that has been heavily scrutinised in the recent past.

Then there is also Kyle Walker who has lost his place to Joao Cancelo in Manchester City’s side this season but whenever he has been called upon he has performed, clearly on a mission to prove that he should still be considered for the Euro’s squad.

Walker also has the advantage of being able to play as a centre-back in his locker which might help his argument as to why he should be picked.

Many fans will argue that Reece James and Tariq Lamptey should also be considered, which they definitely should be, but have they shown enough this season to argue their case to be picked over those three? We will find out eventually.

Centre Backs – John Stones and Harry Maguire

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The two centre back positions are probably the two easiest positions to pick in this England squad. John Stones has played 22 games, keeping 18 clean sheets, conceding only four and scoring three, without losing a single game. So it’s fair to say he has retained his position from the World Cup which he originally lost last year.

With Joe Gomez potentially missing the competition and even if he is back in time, questions will be raised over his fitness, which leaves the obvious contender of Harry Maguire to partner Stones.

The Manchester United captain has put his rough summer behind him and has become a real leader in the United team, becoming almost undroppable in every game they play.

Left Back – Luke Shaw

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If you were to pick the starting left-back for England at the start of the season many people would have gone with Ben Chilwell and rightly so. However, since making his £50 million move to Chelsea in the summer, the Englishman has been underwhelming, to the point where Marcos Alonso has been starting under Thomas Tuchel.

A man who many wrote off at the start of the season, especially with United signing Alex Telles, was Luke Shaw. The 25-year-old has proved everyone wrong this year and is a strong contender for a Premier League Team of The Year position.

Defensive midfielder – Declan Rice

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Now, this is where the decisions start to get much tougher for the England manager. Jordan Henderson would usually be the first midfielder on the team sheet, playing as the number six, but as he is out for three months and will be in a race to be fit, Southgate will have to at least prepare another option.

Declan Rice has been at the heart of a midfield that has seen West Ham United challenging for a place in the Champions League next season. The former Republic of Ireland midfielder has to fancy his chances of being in Southgate’s starting XI.

Fortunately for the 22-year-old, there isn’t much more competition for the holding midfielder role, unlike the other midfielders.

Central Midfielders – Mason Mount and Jack Grealish

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So who exactly gets their name in England’s starting midfield? Mason Mount? Everyone knows the running joke regarding the England boss and the Chelsea midfielder.

Jack Grealish? Southgate seemed to have something against him in the past but in recent international breaks, it seems to have faded away. Aston Villa’s star man is also a contender for the PFA Player of the Year so it would be a big decision to exclude a player of his ability and form at the moment.

Phil Foden? Manchester City’s youngster has impressed massively this season and has several Man of the Match performances against big sides this season, but is he ready and established enough to be a starter?

James Maddison? The English attacking midfielder has gone rather under the radar this season in comparison to the others but he has been one of Leicester’s finer performers this season, spurring them on to a healthy position in the battle for top four.

James Ward Prowse? Saints’ dead-ball specialist was looking more and more likely to receive a call up as the season went on but Southampton’s heavy drop off may have hindered his chances.

For the two central midfielders, it is all about getting the correct balance, especially with only having one defensive midfielder behind them.

Mount will provide England with the much-needed legs in midfield while also carrying the ball forward and will help in the transitional phases, which is why Southgate will most likely pick the 22-year-old.

In order to not leave too much pressure on the front three being the sole creators and finishers, Southgate should opt for Grealish next to Mount on the left-hand side of midfield. The Villa captain can play exceedingly well in the half-space and has provided ten assists and also chipped in with six goals in the league for his side this season.

Front Three – Raheem Sterling (RW), Harry Kane (CF) and Marcus Rashford (LW)

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Moving onto the attackers, the centre forward spot is already nailed down, providing the England captain Harry Kane doesn’t get injured before the tournament. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Danny Ings will be ready and roaring to make an impact when or if they are given the chance.

Southgate is absolutely flooded with options for his wingers as near enough all of them can perform on either flank to a very high level. His options are Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and the aforementioned Jack Grealish.

All of these players have incredibly strong cases as to why it should be their name on the starting team sheet. However, you have to feel Sterling and Rashford are the two frontrunners to be starting, with what you would imagine as the City winger starting on the right and the United man starting on the left.

If Southgate doesn’t choose to play Grealish in midfield he would be a more than capable replacement for Rashford on the left and the same applies to Jadon Sancho on the right for Sterling, the former has 14 goals and assists since the turn of the year.

Having Saka and Foden on the bench for the latter stages of the games is nothing to complain about either and neither of the Premier League youngsters will be moaning about sitting on the bench for the names ahead of them, after all, they’re only just starting off.

England’s Realistic Aims

With the group they are in, England will 100% be looking to make it out of the group stages and will also be looking for revenge against Croatia. It would be brilliant if England could get one over on Scotland as well, with the Czech Republic occupying the final place.

Despite their extremely talented squad Southgate and his men will be wary of the threat other countries pose. Specifically, Portugal and France will be strong favourites to lift the trophy. However, those two nations and Germany are all in the same group, accompanied by Hungary, so you never know what could happen, especially in football.

Southgate’s side should definitely be aiming to reach the semi-finals, at a minimum and England fans have every right to demand further from them. Let’s hope that after the past year we’ve all been through, the Three Lions can make us forget all about it for a while.

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