The Chosen Ones - Southgate's England squad assessed

The Chosen Ones - Southgate's England squad assessed

23/05/24 08:53

The weight of expectation this summer is one that Gareth Southgate will carry on his shoulders. A nation expects, and the boss must deliver. England go into this summer with an embarrassment of riches, a squad littered with attacking talent. A cluster of forwards which should be able to see the Three Lions home, compensating for a less than watertight defence. Southgate has been bold with his initial selection of a 33 man squad. So much so that some England fans must be thinking, what’s going on here?

Who would have thought that a quartet of Crystal Palace players would make this initial squad. Adam Wharton has been a revelation since arriving from Blackburn Rovers, his calm presence within the midfield has clearly been noticed. The youngster is tipped for a bright future, but is unlikely to make the final squad. Meanwhile, in Ebereche Eze, there is a wildcard type forward who surely has given the England hierarchy a headache when it comes to selection. He will be lucky to make the cut, but has the opportunity to be involved given his late season surge in form.

It would be naïve to suggest the defensive selections do not come without concern. Harry Maguire has always been a reliable choice at Centre Half, while John Stones has looked more comfortable in an advanced, unconventional role for Manchester City. Kyle Walker will again provide some much needed pace to a backline which is arguably going to be the achillees heel. At left back, injuries to Ben Chillwell and Luke Shaw have given Southgate a limited choice, with the evergreen Kieran Trippier likely to be deployed on the left hand side. There is comfort in the knowledge that Joe Gomez is a very able deputy, but the lack of a left footed full back that is likely to be a starter in Germany makes for an uncomfortable scenario.

The middle of the park is secure in the knowledge that the stalwart Declan Rice will be a guaranteed starter. His form at Arsenal has been nothing shy of magnificent, and surely the armband awaits Rice in the not so distant future. Southgate seems to be moving away from his more cautious approach. Eyebrows were raised with Curtis Jones’ inclusion, a skillful and dynamic type, who lacks experience – he will be lucky to be on the plane come next month. The exceptionally talented Trent Alexander-Arnold will be hoping that his world class passing ability will not overshadow his defensive frailties. Ironically, this might see him sneak an appearance or two against the lesser opposition in midfield.

Connor Gallagher has enjoyed a relatively impressive season at a downbeat Stamford Bridge, and may sit at the heart of the much maligned Southgate pivot. The emergence of Kobbie Mainoo has lead to a guaranteed boarding pass come June, if media speculation is to be believed. Jordan Henderson may be scratching his head, so too Morgan Gibbs White, who took to Instagram to voice his discontent. Maybe a bad move given the type of culture which the upper echelons at St James Park deem a requirement from an England player these days.

There is hope in the class that England possess in the final third. Harry Kane, will look to exorcise his demons and lift the trophy aloft, the England captain remains a dependable source of goals. Bukayo Saka will be the preferred starter on the left, given his excellent form for Arsenal, scoring 16 goals en route to the Gunners second place finish.

Cole Palmer has enjoyed a remarkable season, and were it not for Saka he would be one of the first names on the team sheet. His ability to glide past players as if they aren’t there, as well as being reliable from 12 yards will see him play a big part in the tournament. Jarrod Bowen, a similar type player, may miss out, and James Maddison may not quite have enough to be part of the final 26. Jude Bellingham will continue to be the Golden Boy, his stock continuing to rise as he develops into a world class player.

Ollie Watkins has enjoyed a fruitful season for Aston Villa, while Ivan Toney’s ability from 12 yards may nudge him ahead of the Villa forward in the pecking order. Anthony Gordon was not expecting to be in the mix when he was on loan at Preston North End only a few years back. The Newcastle winger has pace to burn and will be a useful weapon off the bench. Phil Foden, another in the world class mould, will perhaps feel aggrieved at being pushed out wide. Given his performances in the 10 role for Manchester City, expect to see him be given a free role by Southgate. His teammate Jack Grealish may have to settle for a place on the bench meanwhile.

It is an interesting selection Southgate has moved away and gone off piste with his selection. Lets hope the final 26 can lead us to glory……

Is it coming home? I think it might be…..

My starting 11 vs Serbia


Walker Stones Maguire Tripier

Rice Alexander-Arnold

Saka Bellingham Foden



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