England Euro 2020 squad: Who will make Gareth Southgate’s 23-man selection? (Getty Images / The Independent)
With only a little more than three months to go until Euro 2020, we are getting closer and closer to the moment when Gareth Southgate will reveal his 23-man England squad for this summer’s finals.
England will play Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic in Group D. All three of their games will be held at Wembley, as will the semi-finals and final.
This month’s World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland will be Southgate’s last chance to meet up with his players as a group before the end of the season and the build-up to the tournament itself.
Southgate has until 10 days before the opening game on 11 June to unveil his final squad, with pre-tournament friendlies scheduled against Austria and Romania.
Who will be on the team bus from St George’s Park to Wembley? Who can be confident of a place, who has work to do and who is an outside bet?
Here, The Independent runs the rule over the contenders…
On the bus
England’s captain and most accomplished international goal-scorer by some distance, Kane has looked back to his best at times this season. Injuries are the only concern, but if anyone’s willing to rush back and play through the pain barrier, it’s him.
After the most prolific season of his career to date last year, Sterling has been slightly inconsistent in front of goal this time around. There are now signs of a mid-season revival, though, and his importance to England has never come into question.
Sancho had a difficult start to the campaign with Dortmund, who have underachieved in the Bundesliga this season, but his form has picked up since Christmas. No matter how well he is playing come May, he’s all but certain to be part of Southgate’s final squad.
England full-back Trent Alexander-ArnoldGetty Images / The Independent
Another player to have suffered something of an indifferent season to date, though there are tentative signs that Alexander-Arnold is getting back to his usual self. Whether he is suited to playing a wing-back in England’s new-fangled 3-4-3 system remains an open question.
Henderson has more experience at international level than practically any other England regular and has emerged as something of a playmaker this season too, which could be useful in a midfield lacking creativity. Out until April with a groin injury.
Maguire has quietly played his way back into form after a difficult start to the season on and off-the-pitch. Though he lacks pace, he is England’s best centre-back and his ability to carry the ball up the pitch is a bonus. Southgate sees him as the squad’s senior central defender.
A national hero for his efforts in fighting child poverty off-the-pitch, Rashford has struggled for consistency and suffered from playing out on the right wing. Nevertheless, it is hard to see how he fails to make the final squad and will hope to be in form by the summer.
No longer certain of a starting spot at Chelsea since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival but left-back is this English generation’s problem position and Chilwell is still Southgate’s best option. All but certain of a place in the squad, though will hope to regain regular minutes at club level.
Now clear of Harry Winks in the battle for a regular midfield spot alongside Henderson. Rice still has much to learn before he can be considered at the elite level but he has only just turned 22 and has improved over the past year.
Another Southgate favourite, Mount’s work out of possession endears him to his managers. Tuchel appears to value his presence, too. As long as he can survive the Chelsea boss’ rotation policy, his place in the final squad appears assured.
Despite all the questions about his status as England’s No 1, Pickford’s place in the squad remains safe. The Everton goalkeeper’s ability with his feet can be overstated but it is important to Southgate and he is more adept in possession than his rivals for the spot.
All but certain to travel as Pickford’s backup but Burnley’s struggles could affect whether he gets an opportunity to oust the Everton goalkeeper. Southgate suggested that Pickford has little competition to worry about at the moment, hinting that Pope has work to do.
Since making his international debut in September, Grealish’s reputation has soared. He is widely regarded as one of the finest creative players in the Premier League. Even Southgate finally appears convinced, which should be enough to see off competition for a place.
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Even with Grealish and Sancho’s emergence, arguably England’s most exciting new talent since the World Cup. Foden returned to the squad quickly after the disciplinary incident in Iceland, which speaks to Southgate’s faith that he can play a part at the Euros.
Despite only winning his first cap last year at 26-years-old, Mings already appears to be a player Southgate trusts. His left-footedness is no small part of his appeal as a centre-back, as is an ability to play as a more traditional left-back if necessary.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, Trippier’s 10-week ban for gambling offences is not ideal tournament preparation. Southgate is still a fan, giving the Atletico Madrid full-back the captain’s armband against Wales in October, but he will need to win his club place back.
Calvert-Lewin leads the tightly-contested race to provide cover for Kane. The Everton striker did not sustain his excellent early season form as he suffered from losing some key team-mates to injury but there are signs of a revival.
Saka impressed when called upon during the autumn and his ability to play anywhere down the left flank is an asset, given the general lack of left-footed players. Still eligible to represent Nigeria until he plays another competitive match due to a change of Fifa’s rules.
One of the potential beneficiaries of the switch to a 3-4-3. Walker’s pace and ability to play either as a right-back or the right-sided centre-back in Southgate’s new back three offers him a route into the final squad that is not open for some of his rivals.
Easily one of England’s three best goalkeepers based on his displays on loan at Sheffield United last season but has only made three league appearances since returning to Manchester United, leaving his place vulnerable to a late challenge.
On the fringes
Under consideration once again having resurrected his Manchester City career, though will have to maintain his form to hold onto his place. Stones’ revival is great news for England, who looked short on quality centre-backs in the autumn despite playing three.
Coady seems suited to Southgate’s new three-man defence as he is used to playing in a similar system week-in and week-out at club level but Wolves have chopped and changed this season and their form has suffered, which may raise questions over his inclusion.
Highly thought of within the England set-up, as his inclusion despite being suspended for two of November’s three games proved, but James is facing stiff competition at right back and has lost his starting spot since Tuchel’s arrival at Chelsea.
Hudson-Odoi is playing regularly again but in James’ position as a right wing-back under Tuchel and sadly, that’s one spot where England are over-subscribed. Nevertheless, he has coped well in that role so far and that versatility could be an asset over Trippier.
Keane began the season well with Everton, started both the autumn’s friendlies against Wales and the Republic of Ireland, and has carried his form through to the second-half of the season. Southgate will be taking note.
Matching Calvert-Lewin’s underlying numbers but was not starting regularly enough under Frank Lampard to find rhythm and stake his claim. Tuchel is still figuring out his first-choice line-up and it remains to be seen if Abraham fits into it.
Prevented from joining up with the squad in November due to injury, those fitness concerns may still count against him in the final analysis. Not quite hitting the heights of last season for Southampton either but still a close rival to Calvert-Lewin and Abraham.
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Unfortunate to miss out on the November camp through injury. Phillips did well without truly excelling on his four England appearances so far and it remains to be seen whether he is suited to the new system.
Ward-Prowse’s set-piece ability offers something genuinely unique and could give him the edge over the likes of Phillips. Southampton’s slump in the second half of the season has not helped his cause, though.
A slow start to the season due to injury deprived him of a chance to stake a claim over the autumn and it now appears as though there are too many established talents ahead of him, despite some impressive displays of late.
Worked his way back into the international fold having become a regular at centre-half for Tottenham, but has dropped out of Jose Mourinho’s starting line-up on a couple of occasions recently. Needs to convince as an out-and-out defender in order to earn a finals spot.
Similar to his Leicester team-mate Maddison, albeit with a cap to his name. There just is not the room to squeeze him in alongside Sancho, Sterling, Rashford, Grealish and Foden, though he has every chance of a call-up further down the line.
Southgate said “the door is certainly open” for Shaw and a recall is a possibility again after his excellent form for United. With no genuine left-back cover for Chilwell, there is a vacancy, though it may come down to a choice between him and Saka.
Playing fairly regularly for Dortmund despite not turning 18 until June, Bellingham has a huge future and a viable way into the squad given the lack of convincing options in midfield. This tournament may have come a little too soon, though.
Work to do
The Liverpool defender suffered a potentially season-ending knee injury during the November camp, putting his Euros place in serious doubt. Gomez is a Southgate favourite but his availability is an issue and the tournament will probably come too soon.
Unlike Foden, Greenwood has not returned to the England set-up since being sent home from Reykjavik and his pathway back to the senior squad is not as clear. A drop-off in his goalscoring since the end of last season has not helped but he is still just 19-years-old.
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Winks has almost been an ever-present in Southgate’s squads but a lack of playing time at Tottenham is seriously harming his chances of making the final cut. With only nine league appearances to his name, it is hard to justify his selection ahead of immediate rivals.
Southgate likes Barkley but injuries have hampered his progress while on loan at Aston Villa. Whether he fits into the new system is a concern and he is out of form at present, though a strong end to the season could see him push past the likes of Phillips and Ward-Prowse.
Emerged as something of a utility man and may still make the squad in that capacity but many of Southgate’s bases are covered. Unlikely to make a strong case for his inclusion while part of a poor West Bromwich Albion side.
Wilson’s 10 league goals this season is a decent return but four have come from the penalty spot. Now, the Newcastle striker is out with a hamstring injury. Calvert-Lewin, Ings and Abraham all appear to be ahead of him in the queue.
Escaped Chelsea on loan during the January window in search of regular first-team football at Milan. If he can play regularly and impress, there is a chance but Tomori has not been part of an England squad since late 2019.
Impressive alongside Mings at the heart of Villa’s defence this season, Konsa is a product of the same Charlton academy that Gomez came through. Southgate is keeping tabs on him while reviewing centre-back options.
Has the JLingz renaissance come too late for an international return? Probably, though Lingard was a trusted regular at the last World Cup and his work rate off-the-ball is something Southgate wants in his attacking players.
One of the goalkeepers that could benefit if Southgate decides that Henderson is not playing regularly enough to warrant a place. West Bromwich Albion’s defence is the worst in the Premier League, but would but worse still without Johnstone’s performances.
Began the season strongly but now dropped from Southampton’s starting line-up, McCarthy’s chances of claiming the third-choice goalkeeper slot look more remote than ever.
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Vardy did not announce his retirement from international football after the 2018 World Cup, instead merely ‘walking away’ from the England set-up. Southgate remains in contact and the door is open but a return appears unlikely for now.
A forgotten man for club and country. Alli’s last international appearance was at the Nations League finals more than two years ago but he will need to win back the confidence of Jose Mourinho before an England return is considered.
Watkins has quickly adapted to life in the Premier League and has performed well for Villa, reaching double figures already. Finishing has been an issue at times and a lack of international experience is likely to cost him this close to a tournament.
The same applies to Bamford, who has been more prolific than Watkins. Is his goalscoring just a product of Marcelo Bielsa’s style and system? Can it be replicated in an England shirt? We may have to wait until the autumn games to find out.
David Moyes has made the most of Antonio’s unique skill set at West Ham. Could England do the same? A sustained run of scoring between now and the end of the season would become hard to ignore but there is already a lot of competition up front.
Still uncapped at senior international level, Wan-Bissaka is an unfortunate victim of England’s right-back surplus but his limitations going forward and defending far post crosses cannot be ignored either. Eligible to represent DR Congo and may take up the offer.
The barrier to Oxlade-Chamberlain playing more regularly for club and country is the same as it ever was: fitness. After yet another stop-start year at Liverpool, it is difficult to see how he puts a run together to force his way back into Southgate’s thinking.
Impressive since breaking into Liverpool’s midfield rotation and has won the trust of Jurgen Klopp and his team-mates. Still probably too soon for senior international recognition, but likely to travel to the Under-21 Euros later this month.
Arguably the best English left-back in the Premier League this season, Cresswell last appearance was as a starter in a 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Lithuania under Southgate. Despite his form at West Ham, Chilwell and Shaw seem to be ahead of him.
Finally appears to have found a role as part of Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton midfield and could challenge for one of the midfield spots but, like Jones, it seems more likely that he will spend his summer with the Under-21s.
The Independent’s predicted Euro 2020 squad: Pickford, Pope, D Henderson; Maguire, Stones, Coady, Mings, Walker; Alexander-Arnold, Trippier, Chilwell, Saka; J Henderson, Rice, Mount, Phillips; Sancho, Foden, Sterling, Grealish, Rashford; Kane, Calvert-Lewin.
England coach Gareth Southgate making a list and checking it twice as Euro 2020 squad takes shape