Southgate's squad dilemmas | Who will Gareth pick for the Euros?
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Southgate's squad dilemmas | Who will Gareth pick for the Euros?

17/05/24 13:10

2 weeks ago, UEFA confirmed that they would be increasing the squad size for this years 2024 European Championships from 23 to a 26 man squad. 26 man squads were introduced for Euro 2020 due to the impact of covid-19 but plans to revert back to a 23 person squad were shelled when the national competitions committee voted in favour of the change in April. Gareth Southgate names his England squad on 21st May but has this change helped or hindered his thought process? In the meantime, we look at the likely squad Gareth will pick and any potential wildcard picks.

Goalkeeper

Jordan Pickford is England’s undisputed Number 1 and he has been in superb form for Everton this season with 13 Clean Sheets, only bettered by Arsenal’s David Raya. Joining him will be Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale who has endured a frustrating campaign sitting on the bench with limited opportunities. Despite this, he will be on the plane and will be a suitable backup should he be needed.

The 3rd Goalkeeper slot is a tricky one with Nick Pope, Dean Henderson and Jack Butland all in contention.

Nick Pope is coming back from a dislocated shoulder where he has spent 5 months on the sidelines. He was named on the bench for Newcastle’s defeat at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. Will Southgate want to take the risk on someone who may not have played a game since early December? Dean Henderson is viewed as his main rival for the 3rd keeper spot - Henderson has made the Palace number 1 position his own in recent times and has been crucial in the Eagles rise under new manager Oliver Glasner.

According to SkyBet’s odds (correct as of 17/05), Nick Pope is slightly favoured at 8/15 whilst Dean Henderson odds are 15/8.

Defenders

Many of the Defenders pick themselves with guarantees for the likes of John Stones, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, Trent Alexander-Arnold but there are injury doubts and form affecting others, especially in the left-back position. Both Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw have been affected by long-term injuries this season with just 13 and 12 Premier League appearances respectively. Just yesterday, Luke Shaw’s availability for the tournament was questioned further after Manchester United manager, Erik ten Hag, said the left-back was struggling to be fit for the FA Cup final after a setback.

These injuries have seen Joe Gomez’s stock rise in a year where has covered every position across the back line for Liverpool and been extremely comfortable in the left back. Like we saw in the World Cup, Gareth can also use Kieran Tripper as a left back if needed and Gareth knows Kieran will not let him down.

On the fringes of the squad are Lewis Dunk, Eric Dier, Ezri Konsa, Levi Colwill and don’t rule out the likes of Tyrick Mitchell. One man who is unlikely to be on the plane but would normally be a guaranteed pick is Arsenal’s Ben White who refused a call-up for the recent fixtures following his departure from the World Cup Squad in Qatar.

Midfielders

With Gareth’s typical 4-3-3 formation, two of his midfielders are guaranteed with Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham occupying those slots. From there, it gets interesting and there are a number of players vying for the last position in the team and a number who will be in the squad: think Conor Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison.

Eberechi Eze was called up by Gareth for the last round of fixtures but had to withdraw due to injury and his teammate Adam Wharton has risen into contention due to some fantastic performances of late. Outside of the names mentioned, Harvey Elliott is a name that we shouldnt dismiss as his ability to play in a variety of positions as well as a left footed option could prove an intriguing dilemma for Southgate.

Forwards

Arguably Gareth’s biggest challenge is his forwards and trying to work out his potentially potent front-line. Those who looked like shoe-ins 6 months ago are out of form, and those looking unlikely a year ago are in red-hot form. What does Southgate do with the likes of Rashford and Grealish? Can he afford to include them at the expense of Jarrod Bowen, Ivan Toney. One man who is almost a certainty now is Anthony Gordon after a stellar season and he is in real contention to start for England on the left-hand side.

With Saka, Kane, Palmer, Foden, Watkins and Gordon certainties to be on the plane to Germany this summer, Southgate must try to find room but the increase from a 23 to a 26 man squad may help him in his selection and keep faith with those who haven’t let England down previously.

I’ve included Jordan Henderson and Jarrod Bowen in my squad as Bowen gives you an option on the right or centrally and Henderson provides the young squad with some experience in the middle and I am sure he will play a vital role in the dressing room.

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